It started out as a song playing in my subconscious, then I started humming it around the house and the office, then I started playing it out loud through my phone, and I had to go post the lyrics on Facebook, and now it is at the top of my “most played” playlist. I am referring to the popular Boney M song “Rivers of Babylon” which has taken over my life in the last two weeks.
As someone who likes looking for Order within Chaos, and someone who considers rationalizing phenomena as important and as necessary as breathing is to continuous existence, I have been trying to understand why this song has suddenly taken over my life at this point in time. Like all Researchers worth the title would do, I decided to start from the beginning.
Boney M, I am sure have rights to the song, but the original writer of the lyrics is King David aka The Psalmist, the man whose favoured instrument was the Harp, and who has one hundred and fifty curated singles to his credit among which are the popular “The Earth Is The Lord’s And The Fullness Thereof”, “He That Dwelleth In The Secret Place Of The Most High”, “I Will Lift Up My Head To The Mountains High” and the seminal “The Lord Is My Shepherd”. The lyrics to the song could be found in the first four verses of Psalms 137 and the last verse of Psalm 90. However, I am still not close to finding an answer to the question - Why does the song keep ringing in my head?
To answer this question, I had to summon my inner Bertrand, Descartes, Nietsche, Kierkegaard, Kant, Freud, Orwell, Marx, and Awolowo; and ask series of questions about Life, Living, Existence, Afterlife, Happiness, Purpose, Fate, Choice, Spirituality, Love, and a whole lot of other concepts. Suffice to say I did a lot of thinking, probably became enlightened a little more, definitely got a bit more confused, but with a better understanding of why the song has been ringing in my head.
I believe the song is a summation of the state of humans in the present world, a world where divisions are being accentuated, where bigotry and hate are being encouraged, where diseases keep finding ways to morph, where wars have become the norm, where poverty and hunger keep growing exponentially, and where humans seem incapable of providing far-reaching and long-lasting solutions.
This world is not our home as we love it, this must be a captive colony of the wicked, this is Babylon, our home is in Zion; but we are here and we are expected to be happy and show love to everyone, but how do we continue to be happy and loving when sadness permeates everywhere? How do we continue to be model human beings when that represents the exception at the moment? As it stands, when we cannot fathom a way out of the pervasive quagmire, we turn to the Most High and offer supplications and hope He will accept and prepare a place for us somewhere else, a place far better, peaceful, and inspiring than this Babylon.
The song represents my conscious cum subconscious view of the state of the world at the moment – disillusionment, shame, and hopelessness.
I am not giving up though. I believe we can still salvage the world. Believing is a start, isn’t it?