Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Can't we just all get along

The folks here seem friendlier than most places on the net. I am not one of those folks who spends a lot of time posting political or ideological rants. You see, my childhood was different than many other folks. My best friends were often black (and still are). I grew up in a lower/middle class neighborhood that was quite diverse (racially, ethnically, politically…etc). And we counted and could count on each other for support in bad times and in good.

So although I am old enough to understand that the white man has come down off the upper rungs of the ladder in the last 50 years or so (civil rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, political correctness, affirmative action… etc), I also understand that for the US to be a place that truly has equal rights for ALL people, I (and all other white men) had to climb down the ladder a bit so that all people had room and could share the top rungs.

It is with this spirit in mind that this video really struck me. Not only it is sung expertly, and a phenomenal arrangement of a James Taylor tune, but it speaks of the importance of true equality; not only that all people are treated as equals under the law, but that we all actually SEE each other as equals and in turn, as friends.

It doesn’t hurt that I am a sucker for great accapella singing!


The big guy with the scarf has crazy range

They did a great job.

Really nice… sharing!

Believe I’ll pass. More power to you …

Thanks guys for letting me speak out a little. And I hope you all enjoyed the singing. When you consider that there were no instruments involved except for voices (the percussion and the horns and the bass were all done with voices), it is a pretty spectacular arrangement and performance.

I wanted to tell a short story of something that happened to me while in college at Temple University. I was living in the dorms at the time in a traditionally black neighborhood. I went out one evening to grab something to eat at a McDonalds about 2 blocks from campus. It was nighttime and not something that most on-campus students did. However, with my upbringing and background, this did not seem problematic to me. When I walked into the McDonalds, time seemed to stop and all eyes in the fast food joint were on me. No one was aggressive or even showed any anger, but I definitely felt that I was out of place and possibly not welcome.

It was at that moment that I realized how difficult it must be for folks who are not from any specific neighborhood to interact in those areas. It does not matter whether they are Black, Asian, middle eastern, Mexican or even white (in those rare neighborhoods where the white person is in the tiny minority). There is a hostility that is palpable when you are the odd man out. And for folks in this country who are not part of the vast majority (white folks) in many neighborhoods, they live their lives feeling threatened and in fear. And I never realized how uncomfortable that feeling was until I happened to be in the minority in that McDonalds.

I guess I could have come away with a lifelong suspicion and fear of my fellow man but instead I felt, for a brief moment in time, what it must be like to be a black man, or Asian or Mexican or middle eastern person in predominantly white America.

I did go back to that McDonalds a few times after that and each time I felt slightly less “out of place”, but the initial feeling of being an outsider stuck with me as a reason to welcome those who are outsiders in any instance where I am an insider or in my comfort zone.

If God had a part in the conception of the USA, it seems to me that God’s hand was in the Declaration of Independence where it is written, "…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (and women) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

This post was about looking past the hate and suspicion that so many folks trade publicly as “truth” and “reality”. For we are ALL really looking for the same things, Life (a warm roof over our heads and three square meals a day), Liberty (the freedom to live that life safely), and the Pursuit of Happiness (with those who we love around us). It just seems logical that we might drop the hate, and finger pointing, and maybe learn how to help our fellow Americans find their Happiness.

— Begin quote from ____

… and recognize that there are ties between us, all men and women, living on the Earth; ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood…

— End quote

(from the song above)

I’ll step off the soapbox. I hope that I have not offended anyone. If I have, I am very sorry.


I’m not offended just confused. Have there been members here discriminating against other members that I’m not aware of? Are derogatory remarks about one’s race, religion, or sex being posted in threads here? I guess I’m trying to figure out why you would feel the need to post this on a Bluegrass forum. One of the reasons this website/forum is friendlier than most (as you stated in your first post) is that threads pushing personal views about politics, religion, etc… pretty much don’t exist here. If you’d like to apologize to the world for being a white man knock yourself out. Just no need to do it here.

Sorry Bulldog, I did not mean to confuse or offend. The original post was me sharing with folks whom I thought would appreciate the musical aspects of the video. And in fact, that is what transpired. The original statement about my personal feeling about my advantage in the world was meant as to explain why this video meant enough to me to post this in a public music forum. I also stated that I felt that folks here would not take offense and that I felt that this was a safe place to post music that was something other than just bluegrass.

The fact is that this song,and in turn, this video, means a lot to this old man. I have had too many negative experiences with the white/black experience, from my 8 year old self sitting with my friends (who happen to be black) in church and being pulled from the pew and slapped repeatedly by the nun for sitting in that section, to having a shotgun pulled on me from 10 feet away (by a white fellow in a truck) while talking to a black friend on the street in Indiana PA in my college years. So the topic of the post came from my heart and that is why I posted.

I definitely understand that this may not be the place to speak from the heart and I will refrain from doing so in the future as much as possible. And I hope this was not construed as a political rant as much as it was just one fellows hope for unity among all Americans, regardless of their race, sex, financial status, religion, or country of origin.

Take care,


I love this story…

Nothing I like better is a friendly dispute or war .

I think this is a great example of how God intended people of different race, religion, citizenship, etc to be. I love this song and what it says. John McCutheon is an amazing artist.

Take a break and take a listen:

Thanks for that JW. I remember hearing a story about that event during one Christmas on the battle lines in WW1. That is a beautiful song and one I will hold closely.

As a Quaker, I am not a believer in war as war is too often a politicians game rather than a way to resolve disputes. And there are far too many similarities between the wants and needs in the hearts of the combatants than there are differences. But mostly, Quakers believe there is the light of God in everyone and to hurt another is to attack that goodness as well as the disagreements.

Anyway, thanks again!

Hi DrGuitar,

I am touched by your experience. The only way to really appreciate another person is to really listen to their thoughts and experiences.
It is so interesting what can shift a belief or attitude.
Thank you for sharing!