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‘Stand By Me’ — a jam session for democracy

‘Stand By Me’ — a jam session for democracy
Stand By Me | Playing For Change | Song Around The World

Not every voice can use words in essays or logical arguments to express the longing of our soul to connect, to be accepted. Sometimes we use music, poetry, dance, paintings, drawings and theater. Sometimes we use stories, documentaries and streaming entertainment to be seen and heard.

As the publishers of The Fulcrum, we believe that to succeed we must apply balanced, impeccable journalistic standards and, at the same time, provide a voice of all Americans who yearn for a healthier governing system: young people, people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, rural and urban dwellers, conservatives and progressives.


And what better way to do so than through music. Music when played together results in an interplay that depends on the relationship and blending of all those in the band, orchestra, or ensemble. Ideas worth hearing reside within all of us.

And a healthy democracy is much the same. As you listen to this rendition of "Stand By Me," produced by Playing For Change, see if the Ben E. King classic that features musicians around the world reminds you that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people.

We believe it does. Do you? Please email us at pop-culture@fulcrum.us and provide us with other examples that you think represent the connection between the arts and democracy. Whether music, theater, poetry, comedy, spirituality, sport or other mediums, please send us your ideas.

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Donald Sutherland, Jane Fonda and others on stage

Donald Sutherland (left), Paul Mooney, and Jane Fonda performing in an anti-Vietnam War FTA (Free The Army) show in the Philippines in 1971.

Stuart Lutz/Gado/Getty Images

This young GI met Donald Sutherland in a bygone era. RIP to an original.

Page is an American journalist, syndicated columnist and senior member of the Chicago Tribune editorial board.

News of Donald Sutherland's death at age 88 took me back to a day in 1971 when he was protesting the Vietnam War onstage with Jane Fonda and I was one of about 1,000 off-duty soldiers in their audience.

I hoped, in the spirit of John Lennon's anthem, to give peace a chance.

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Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs perform "Fast Car" at the Grammys.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Luke Combs, politics and healing our nation's divide

Nevins is co-publisher of The Fulcrum and co-founder and board chairman of the Bridge Alliance Education Fund.

It’s been a year and a half since I wrote about “The Great Divide,” Luke Combs' song written by Naomi Judd, Paul Overstreet and John Barlow Jarvis. I was moved by the tremendous response I received, and that article is still one of The Fulcrum’s most-read posts.

The lyrics are as powerful today as they were in November 2023:

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Taylor Swift singing on stage
John Shearer/TAS24/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

Taylor Swift: 'It's basically saying don't lose hope'

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In my last writing, I discussed how Taylor Swift’s first involvement in politics (during the 2018 midterm election in Tennessee) was prompted, in part, by her harrowing experience in a sexual assault trial. That year Swift endorsed Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn’s opponent in Tennessee’s U.S. Senate race, Rep. Jim Cooper (D). It wasn’t an easy decision.

“I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions,” she wrote in an Instagram post, “but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent.”

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Young woman doing stand-up comedy

Laughter is the embodiment of depolarization.

FG Trade/Getty Images

What role does comedy play in pulling us together?

It’s no secret that pop culture in America has amazing healing and connecting powers. Throughout history, we’ve seen how artists, entertainers, athletes and creators of every kind invite us into a space of transcendence that leads to connectivity. We see that when we join people together their energy can be harnessed for good, and then amplified and scaled.

Certainly comedy fits in perfectly. Laughter is the embodiment of depolarization. Just consider that in order for something to evoke laughter, it has to have the capacity to both hold tension and release tension at the same time. And so we invite you to join Bridge Entertainment Labs tomorrow at 4 pm Eastern for “What’s Making Us Laugh? What Role Does Comedy Play in Pulling Us Together — or Driving Us Apart?”

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