I often play this song when people ask me for a song that mattered to me growing up. Billy Bragg accompanied me in love and life as I grew up. His songs helped fashion the political values that I hold dear today.
I recently played Between the Wars to a group of students and I was surprised when my young colleagues spoke about how relevant this song is today.
What they connected to was not just the continual need for wars, but the economic recession. They spoke about feeling the peace and security growing up in their parent’s house, and how that has been shattered as many of their parents are now without a job and even having to sell the house, the stable bastion of these student’s childhood.
To quote from Between the Wars: And I’ll give my consent to any government who does not deny a man a living wage.
History has a nasty habit of repeating itself. Perhaps it is sending us a message to sit up, pay attention and learn from the lessons of the past. There is a problem – the education cuts are decimating the field of Humanities and the opportunity to learn from history.
Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com