Riff Raff: Hallelujah

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 1,609 views 

“Maybe there’s a God above
but all I’ve ever learned from love
was how to shoot at someone
who outdrew ya.

“But it’s not a cry
that you hear tonight.
It’s not some pilgrim who claims to have seen the light.
No, it’s a cold and it’s a very broken hallelujah.”

Those are some of the lyrics from Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” his alleged argument with God. Maybe with life.

Interpretations of this largesse of Cohen genius vary. Sometimes I think it’s about how we love each other, or how we want to love the world around us while we struggle with the world we built for each other with the hopes of doing right by all. Or at least most of us have such hopeful intent. There’s always an assbag in the bunch.

I’m off topic. Let’s get back to Leonard and our virus.

It is our virus. It’s as much a part of you and I because it’s no more or no less the product of that “stardust” – thank you, Mr. Sagan – from which we evolved. Indeed, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

It ain’t China or Wuhan or the bat flu. It’s amino acids and enzymes and energy and natural and organic. Like us, it’s just trying to live. Reproduce. Survive. Keep the home fires burning, so to speak. It’s easy to be mad at this this thing. But so far, it’s killed and threatened far fewer of us than we’ve historically killed or threatened each other. We’ve been abused far worse by Popes and monarchs and preachers and politicians and our own ignorance and misguided fears.

We’re gonna beat this evolutionary cousin. This blackest of black sheep of the family. We’ll beat it with science or we’ll beat it because it will reach its efficacy with humans. Remember when we all were certain there wasn’t a human alive who could outbox Mike Tyson? Well, this tiny tumbling tyrant of the microscopic world will reach its end through medicine or numbers. We’ll Buster Douglas this little corona jackass. We’ll find a solution – like we have with leprosy, malaria, polio, measles, AIDS, and disco – and this thing will be a seasonal nuisance – although still fatal to some – like the flu. Or, we won’t find a solution and it will die out, but only when our population of billions becomes considerably less so. My bet is on the former because I do not have the ability to accept the latter.

“Baby I’ve been here before.
I know this room and I’ve walked this floor.
I used to live alone before I knew ya.
And I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch,
But listen, love, love is not some kind of victory march.
No, it’s a very cold and it’s a very lonely hallelujah.”

Hallelujah, to me means, love. It means I love all you folks, whether I know you or not. Even if I know you, maybe. And maybe especially if I don’t. It means I hope you love your fellow humans, also, no matter how hard that can be at this time. Or any time. Sometimes the best love is when it’s hard love – when we overcome the first response to judge rather than love. If only we could knee-jerk with our hearts instead of our hates.

We’re here because the twists of evolution and the turns of our ancestors resulted in us outpacing these small demons of death and the terrific large evil we have with alarming zeal thrust upon each other in the name of land and lust and liberty and, too often, a Lord.

Our alleged best interests have not always been in the best interests of all or even for our long-term self interests. Let’s now remember we are all the daughters and sons of cosmic bangs and cosmic odds of heat and chemistry combining in just the right parameters to pull us out of ancient oceans and into modern skyscrapers and jet flight and moon landings and internet porn. Maybe my take is that Hallelujah is a euphemism for the preposterous rarity of us being here and loving each other for being flesh and blood and bone despite the infinite odds against us ever taking a breath on this side of a birth canal.

We’ll beat this virus, but it won’t be the end. We’ll beat it and promise to be a better civilization. But a few commercials later, we’ll be in a tizzy over historic land feuds, deadly religion-fueled conflicts, immigration, climate change and sexual orientation.

That’s when you’ll hear me cry, “Hallelujah.” To plead “Hallelujah.” To demand “Hallelujah.” It won’t be from a “pilgrim who claims to have seen the light,” but rather from a veteran soul who knows we can and should be better than to place fear before understanding and might before right.

What I’m trying to say is, Hallelujah, y’all.