Words Are Our Weapon

Greetings, Friends!

Today’s blog post, “Words Are Our Weapon,” is the title of a song I co-wrote with the young adults at Covenant House last night (see the end of the post for lyrics). I’m still buzzing with excitement and energy, so that must be the reason I’m up at 4:00 am instead of sleeping.

But let me back up for a bit…

Yesterday, the day began with a scary text. We learned that Jim, my stepdad, was in the hospital with double pneumonia! He was feeling especially weak, so he and my mom decided to get him checked out. Before going into the city, we visited him at Phelps Hospital in Ossining, NY. He seems in good spirits despite the fact that he remains in the Emergency section of the hospital after 24 hours, still waiting for an empty room.

“I’ve been observing the people going back and forth in front of my bed instead of focusing on the room issue,” he told us, “and I’ve been thinking, ‘I wonder who all these people are and who they’re visiting?'”

Jim then wondered out loud to us, “I’m not sure if I’m being observant or a little bit crazy.” I can certainly relate to that thought, Jim.

When we got back to Blake and Sharon’s house (where we were staying for a few days), Sharon asked us about Jim and then told us that Bradley had vomited four times while we were gone. Yikes! The poor guy was shaking and having some difficulty walking, so we weren’t sure if it was his cancer or something he may have eaten while roaming the property. After a brief discussion, we decided that Beth should stay home and nurse Brad, so I left for NYC to do the Covenant House gig on my own. It’s not an ideal situation when we “divide and conquer,” but it’s sometimes a necessary one.

Luckily, I wasn’t really alone. Beth gave me lots of encouragement before I left. Joe, the director of Theatre Within, gave me some support over the phone and I knew that Gary, one of my compatriots that night on the Covenant House gig, would be present to help out. Arriving late due to traffic, Gary helped me right away by parking the car while I took the elevator upstairs to start the setup.

There was also support from the brilliant staff of Covenant House, including a senior admin we’ve been working with (Todd) and lots of his youth coordinators. I’m so glad for key people like Jamal, Samantha, Unique, Kadaisha, and Shavon who work with these young adults on a daily basis.

Lastly, and most importantly, I had the support of my Higher Power who I call God. In the car, and on the yoga mat yesterday morning, I asked God to be in the room with us at Covenant House. I asked Him to give me the ability to listen to and work collaboratively, to help me give the residents a positive experience and to trust in His presence. As I’ve been writing about in this space, I was reminding myself to trust, let go of control and be in the moment.

About one-third of the residents returned from the previous night’s session and the remainder of the ten or so attendees (18-21 years old) were new to me. We jumped into talking about John and Yoko’s activism and I played them a video of “Give Peace a Chance” recorded during one of the famous bed-ins John and Yoko held during their honeymoon. This song became the inspiration, I believe, for that evening’s song, “Words are Our Weapon.,” a powerful tune about racial inequality and the actions we need to fix the imbalance.

I’m very proud of the work we did in that room. The residents, the staff, Gary and I put our heads and hearts together for an hour and came up with something honest and meaningful. In Gary’s opinion, kids who came in disengaged or unhappy walked out of there feeling better. Todd was over the moon with gratitude and praise for our work and he looks forward to sharing the recordings with his development and creative teams. I think we’ll be back at Covenant House and I think we have a future working with populations like this.

Thank you, Gary and Joe and the staff for your support. Thank you Sharon and Blake for taking care of Beth and Bradley. And thank you, God, for allowing me to use my gifts, as John and Yoko did, to Imagine a better future and give Power to the People!

And now it’s time to get some rest.

Words are Our Weapon
©2022 Theatre Within
Music and Lyrics by
Covenant House Residents & Staff
Gary Siegel and Scott Bierko

Words are our weapon
So let's all join together
We'll scream and we'll shout them
Til everything gets better

People are unhappy
We're speaking the truth
So let's take action
We're speaking to you
There's not enough equality
There's not enough support
There's not enough jobs
Let's take 'em all to court

Words are our weapon
So let's all join together
We'll scream and we'll shout them
Till everything gets better

Gotta make some choice
How we spend and how we work
They only listen to us
When we hit them where it hurts

Words are our weapon
So let's all join together
We'll scream and we'll shout them
Till everything gets better
Words are our weapon
So let's all join together
We'll scream and we'll shout them
Till everything gets better

Words are our weapon

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