The year was 1969. I was 12 years old and I had a paper route, money in my pocket, and a radio on the nightstand that was next to my bed. Back then, the world I lived in was as close to paradise that a 12-year-old boy could get. Other than 8-track tape players in cars, the only way we could listen to prerecorded music was on a radio or a record player.
It didn’t matter that there was no internet, no smartphones, no video games, no CDs, and no cassette tapes, because I had the four things that any 12-year-old boy would love to have — spending money, a radio, a loving family, and a neighborhood that was populated with my cousins. My life was like Heaven on Earth, except (of course) for the days that I was bussed away to that school, which I affectionately called a prison.
Anyway, 1969 was the year that a British rock band, The Hollies, released their rendition of the song, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.” The song was written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell. At the time, Russell was dying from lymphoma, and it turned out to be the last song he ever wrote. He died in 1970 at the age of 55.
I have a vivid memory of the song. In addition to evoking feelings of sadness and melancholy, the lyrics and music of the song created a deep meaning and somber mood for everyone who listened to it. Here are the lyrics to the first four stanzas:
The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
So on we go
His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We’ll get there
For I know
He would not encumber me
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
If I’m laden at all
I’m laden with sadness
That everyone’s heart
Isn’t filled with the gladness
Of love for one another
The title of the song — He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother — dates back to The Parables of Jesus, a book that was written by James Wells in 1884. In the book, Wells told the story of how a stranger who saw a little girl carrying a big baby boy asked the girl if she was tired. The girl was surprised by the question and answered, “No, he’s not heavy; he’s my brother.”
In an article that was published in Kiwanis magazine in 1924, the author of the article changed the phrase that the little girl had used to “He ain’t heavy, He’s my brother.”
After the song achieved worldwide popularity in 1969, many of the American men who were fighting in the war in Vietnam adopted it as their Anthem. When those men returned home after the war ended, they were ridiculed and abused by demonstrators and the media. They were treated as though they were responsible for the war, when in fact, all they did was obey the orders of their government to leave their families and go overseas to fight a vicious, evil enemy that hardly any people were aware of before the war.
In one of the Rambo movies that Sylvester Stallone wrote and starred in during the 1980s, John Rambo, a war veteran, returned to Vietnam to locate and rescue prisoners of war that the U.S. Government had left behind. At the end of the movie, the song, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” was played while the closing film credits were being shown.
I thought about the song last Monday (July 19) when I read about a shocking incident that occurred in an upscale neighborhood in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. While a lawn-care worker, identified only as “Tony,” was walking through the neighborhood, he saw a man whose car veered off the road and stopped on the lawn of a local resident. Tony ran over to the car and recognized the driver of the car who appeared to have had a seizure and was convulsing inside his car.
Tony was not able to get inside the car to assist the man because the doors were locked. When Tony looked up from the car, he saw the owners of the property standing outside the entrance of their home, watching what was going on. When Tony yelled out to them for help, one of the homeowners shouted, “Get off our lawn. Get the man out of here, have him die somewhere else.”
Tony ran to the home of the driver and notified the driver’s wife of what was going on. She called 911 and emergency personnel showed up shortly thereafter and transported him to the hospital. After the man recovered, he called the local sheriff’s office and asked for Tony’s phone number so he could call and thank him for his help.
What was so shocking about the incident was that the homeowners were more concerned about being remembered as the owners of property where a man had died than they were for a man who was struggling for his life. To them, the man whose life was in peril was nothing more than a wounded rat who needed to be immediately disposed of. To Tony, the man was a fellow human being who needed his help.
It’s important to recognize that the reactions of Tony and the homeowners opened a window to their souls that revealed their core beliefs. Tony’s core beliefs were built on a foundation of Christian values and virtues, while the homeowners’ core beliefs were built on a foundation of selfishness and hatred toward others.
There is an agenda that is currently being forced down the throats of our citizens. The sole purpose of the agenda is to instill within our children and grandchildren foundational beliefs that will transform our country into a nation of selfish, hateful people who will be conditioned to react to the behavior and plight of others in a selfish, hateful manner, rather than in a kind and virtuous manner. The primary tools that are being used to instill within our children and grandchildren those evil foundational beliefs are the school system, the media, and the movies and shows that are available on TV and the internet.
What happened in that yard in Palm Beach Gardens is just one more reminder of the terrible decline of our once virtuous nation. There are only three primary things we can do to reverse this decline: pray, sacrifice, and take bold, overt action against the people who are attempting to replace our Christian heritage and constitution with a repressive, totalitarian, evil empire.