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live video of John Mayer \”Belief\”

Is there anyone who ever remembers/Changing their mind from the paint on a sign?
Is there anyone who really recalls ever breaking rank at all/For something someone yelled real loud one time?

Oh everyone believes/In how they think it oughta be
Oh everyone believes/And they’re not going easily

Belief is a beautiful armor/But makes for the heaviest sword
Like punching underwater/You never can hit who you’re trying for
Some need the exhibition/And some have to know they tried
It’s the chemical weapon/For the war that’s raging on inside

Oh everyone believes/From emptiness to everything
Oh everyone believes/And no one’s going quietly

We’re never gonna win the world/We’re never gonna stop the war
We’re never gonna beat this/If belief is what we’re fighting for
We’re never gonna win the world/We’re never gonna stop the war
We’re never gonna beat this/If belief is what we’re fighting for

Is there anyone who you can remember/Who ever surrendered with their life on the line?

We’re never gonna win the world/We’re never gonna stop the war
We’re never gonna beat this/If belief is what we’re fighting for
We’re never gonna win the world/We’re never gonna stop the war
We’re never gonna beat this/If belief is what we’re fighting for

Na na na na…

What puts a hundred thousand children in the sand?/Belief can, belief can
What puts the folded flag inside his mother’s hand?/Belief can, belief can.

***          ***          ***          ***          ***

These lyrics are brilliant.  Such a perfect blend of straight truth and thick metaphors.  So seamless, the two, that every time I just barely think I’m on his page, that I know what he’s talking about, he throws in another image that doesn’t quite fit my hypothesis.  And I’m tossed back and forth between searching for meaning and searching for life experiences to illustrate what I think I know.

It’s very strange to talk about something so ambiguious as ‘belief’ without giving it a positive or negative label.  Maybe he does ascribe to a side with, “It’s a chemical weapon”, or “Belief is a beautiful armor”.  But, which?

The hundred thousand children in the sand reminds me of the two soldier statues outside of Calder Art center at GV.  When David came to visit school, he and my artist roommate told me about a massacre, some sort of genocide-ish event in the East a while back (remember, history is a bit of a weak spot, to say it gently).  They buried the enemy in what would be their tombs, with only their heads above the sand.  Then they came across with sieve-like tools and beheaded an entire race or army or people.  The edges of the story are blurring with time.  Are these the same hundred thousand children that the belief in some cause killed?

“Belief is a beautiful armor, but makes for the heaviest sword.  It’s like punching underwater, you can hit who you’re trying for”.  I have no idea what that means, but if I had to guess, he’s calling it a crutch.  He’s saying that it’s worthless.  Even when belief hands the woman the flag in honor of her deceased army son, belief is just something to lean on, and nothing but a pain in the neck to fight for.

If John Mayer speaks well about belief, as he presents himself lyrically here, then I’m made to wonder about Queen Lucy (the smallest of the Narnian Kings and Queens) and why she’s always right with her believing.  I watched the second on the Chronicles of Narnia movies last night and after also having seen the first, I’m a little astounded by how Lucy’s curious instincts win her the victory.  She’s the faith of a child.  And she proves her mighty, brave, powerful (if egotistical) brothers and even her graceful, wise sister, essentially wrong in the way she trusts.

Her mantra believes in belief.  Does it make a difference that the things she trustingly believes in turn out to be true?  Sure it does, but the knowledge of that isn’t hers until it’s over, and the lack of knowledge doesn’t stop her.

If fear or doubt had kept Lucy from believing Mr. Tumnus in the first movie, or from believing that Aslan was going to help them in the second, then the Narnians have nothing to hangs their hats on.  Lucy’s belief was foundational for the victory of the ‘good guys’.

Maybe it’s not belief that murders and kills, maybe it’s malice and violence.  If fighting for belief seem arbitrary and futile, maybe it’s not true, the belief.  Fighting for truth doesn’t fail in the areas John Mayer’s belief does.  At least, I don’t believe so.

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