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August 06, 2005

With God on Our Side


by Bob Dylan

Oh my name it is nothin'
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I's taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And that land that I live in
Has God on its side.

Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on its side.

Oh the Spanish-American
War had its day
And the Civil War too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
I's made to memorize
With guns in their hands
And God on their side.

Oh the First World War, boys
It came and it went
The reason for fighting
I never did get
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don't count the dead
When God's on your side.

When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And then we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side.

I've learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war comes
It's them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side.

But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we're forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God's on your side.

Through many a dark hour
I've been thinkin' about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can't think for you
You'll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.

So now as I'm leavin'
I'm weary as Hell
The confusion I'm feelin'
Ain't no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God's on our side
He'll stop the next war.

Listen to With God on Our Side on Itunes

Today is August 6 – my birthday. 60 years ago today, before I was born, our country introduced nuclear weapons onto the world stage by being the first (and only) nation to ever drop an atomic bomb onto a populated city. Then we did it again, three days later, onto a second city. No one has done it since. Hopefully, no one will ever do it again. But it seems likely that someone will...

Switching dramatically to a related, but lighter subject, why not amuse ourselves by taking a look at this delightful little trailer for Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, starring the incomparable Peter Sellers (at his absolute best). I think it will, at the very least, put a smile on all of our faces.

More links:
The Fog of War, documenting the life of Robert McNamara
General Tibbets and an Army of Ultramen – Previous Link
• Purchasing Dr. Strangelove

Update: More on Hiroshima suppressed film footage.

August 6, 2005 | Permalink


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Have a happy birthday and keep up your fascinating blog :-)

By the way, will we see more of your wolf spider Creature-Thing soon? I hope she's baked you a tasty birthday cake.

Posted by: iain | Aug 6, 2005 6:07:44 AM

Happy Birthday Robyn.

On to your post. It's ironic because my wife and I were just talking about the subject of your post this morning over coffee. Thank you for the Dylan lyrics as they captured the essence of our discussion perfectly.

Posted by: Bryan William Jones | Aug 6, 2005 8:24:41 AM

We better start swimming
Or Sink like a stone,
For the times they are a changing..........

Happy Day of Birth, Robyn, thanks for
reminding us that we are on the brink,
and back from it we may not come in our
liftetimes, but we CAN each of us live
today in a way that heals just a little
of that terrible day when we let loose
the power of a thousand suns, as one of
the scientists who witnessed it said.
A few footnotes to the history of that
event, I just met the man who built
Los Alamos and all the facilities there
that housed the work to do the bomb. I
also knew some years ago, Teller, just
a little and Heilbronner, and some others
of that work. Some of them were horrified
and deeply sad that it had all happened.
Yet have we learned? Do we still see science unhindered with ethical concerns,
or compassion? I don't know. It has however
somehow given our time a remarkable quality, maybe like living in Ancient China
and knowing the Mongols were on the way,
or Ancient Rome and the Vandals would be
here soon. I know that in those times,
people just went on with their lives without change, for they could not stop\
or change their fate. Do we live thus now?
Can we enlighten our days with just a
little more love, and compassion? Your
blog helps remind us of the odd and
unusual and mysterious corners of our time.
Thanks, and Happiest of B Days!!!

Posted by: Chris Gerlach | Aug 6, 2005 11:46:27 AM

You're THAT young?

Interesting stuff you found... I always figured there wasn't any footage because any news people would've gotten a lethal dose of radiation...

Posted by: M'buhir | Aug 6, 2005 1:14:15 PM

Some sources on the advent of the
Atomic Age (Insanity).....

Dr. Robert Openheimer's Retirement Speech, 1945, Los Alamos

Sources of and on the Advent of the Nuclear Age

Posted by: Chris Gerlach | Aug 6, 2005 9:06:00 PM

Happy birthday to you.
Excellent trailer -

Posted by: Hanan | Aug 7, 2005 10:01:21 PM

Thank you, everyone, for wishing me such a happy birthday!

Posted by: Robyn | Aug 8, 2005 10:18:55 AM

It's a belated Happy Birthday, because I'm lazy about going through all the nifty sites I should be reading. Hope it was a good day, you share natal festivities with my dad :)

Posted by: Eleri | Aug 18, 2005 10:39:48 PM

This tripe is SO WRONG. You left out something important in your poem, like THE TRUTH.

For instance, you DO count the dead when God is on your side (well maybe YOU don't, but I suspect you don't believe in God, right).

I doubt you know much about history, except what some liberal activist lefty of a sad excuse for a teacher might have told you, in between bong hits most likely.

Let me clue you in about God, at least as far as I understand Him. He gave us a world, we screwed it up, and it's just like a lefty to say that it's up to God to keep us from making the wrong choice and do the wrong thing. WRONG. That's YOUR job. God gave you the ability to know the difference between right and wrong, the ability to make the right choice, and if you choose wrong and it's war, DON'T BLAME HIM. God doesn't start wars, HUMANS do.

War sucks, killing sucks, evil sucks, but gathering in a circle and singing KUMBAYA to end it all only ensures that when the enemy comes to kill us we'll be in a nice compact easily located group to make the job easier.

I can't believe that this soon after 9/11 people don't understand why a doctrine of waiting until the other guy nukes us is no longer acceptable. North Korea and Iran are desperately vying to win that race now that we took Saddam Hussein out of the running. As I write this comes word that North Korea, with China watching over them like a doting grandparent, is getting ready to test a missile capable of 1) carrying a nuclear payload 2) all the way to many U.S. cities. How many of you left-coasters want to wake up to find you got one incoming?

Not me!

Posted by: Greg | Jun 17, 2006 5:42:31 AM

NOTE: I understand the poem ws by DYLAN. What I meant by "your poem" was more along the lines of "your choice of poem" but I got interrupted as I wrote. Sorry.

Posted by: Greg | Jun 17, 2006 5:44:29 AM

Greg... thanks for your comments.

My dad was a preacher. He still is. I never missed a service. Did the whole verse memorization, bible studying thing. And routinely argued theology at the dinner table. I think my parents gave me a very good understanding about Christianity and God.

That said, I know longer see eye to eye with them.

I'm not sure I see this song as kumbaya, peace and love to everyone. Do you really think it is? Maybe it's more of a statement of how man (all of humanity, not just the U.S.) tends to use God as an excuse for the most horrific things imaginable. We've always done it and we always will do it, even as the stakes get higher and higher (nuclear war!). It's so frightfully easy for any world leader to press that little button if they feel that God is on their side. That's the irony of the song; it's not just the U.S.... nations all over the world feel that same sort of divine calling, as if they've been chosen to be "the one". A holy mission. Whether it be to blow up the World Trade Center or invade Iraq. To kill Jews or reestablish Israel. In all of this there's an illusion that God is on our side. Which tends to make us feel great about starting wars no matter what side we're on.

The song concludes... the whole thing is tiring. And confusing and God is not on "our" side or on anyone's side in war. Because he really was he'd "stop the next war."

Posted by: Robyn | Jun 23, 2006 10:39:15 AM

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