“In the folk classic ‘If I Had A Hammer,’ the hammer represents justice, one of these freedom.”
The answer to the Jeopardy! question was a no-brainer. “Bell,” I said to the air. “The bell of freedom.” Next question.
But wait, the three contestants — none of whom looked old enough to have been alive in 1962 or 1963, to be fair — stared into space with confused looks on their faces.
As happens at times like these, I said to the air, a little louder, “Bell! The bell of freedom! Really?!?!?” And the time buzzer went off.
“Bell,” said Ken Jennings, hosting, “the bell of freedom.”
I guess they don’t sing about freedom these days. Why would we want young people to sing about freedom?
Do they even know what freedom is or what freedom feels like?
A generation doesn’t know what it’s like not to be surveilled and monitored at every turn. They don’t worry if someone’s listening because someone is always listening, even if it’s just the AI on the nearest electronic device.
They don’t know what it’s like to get on a plane without being treated like a criminal suspect. If someone in authority tells them to lock themselves in their homes, they stay home.
Come to think of it, there’s one more item in the song that the kids ought to be taught to sing about.
“I’ve got a hammer, and I’ve got a bell, and I’ve got a song to sing all over this land,” the last verse of the song goes. “It’s the hammer of justice, it’s the bell of freedom, it’s a song about love between my brothers and my sisters all over this land.”
There’s still talk about justice these days, but freedom? and wait a minute, love?! When there are people in that other party to shut up and people in those other countries to kill? What the heck kind of a song is that, anyway?
I think maybe it’s a song that needs to be sung and taught to our kids, so that when that episode of Jeopardy! is rerun, everyone watching will yell at the screen, “Bell! It’s the bell of freedom!!”