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Eve of Destruction by Barry McGuire
Eve of Destruction
By: Barry McGuire
The eastern world, it is exploding
Violence flarin', bullets loadin'
You're old enough to kill, but not for votin'
You don't believe in war, but what's that gun you're totin'
And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin'
But you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve
Don't you understand what I'm tryin' to say
Can't you feel the fears I'm feelin' today?
If the button is pushed, there's no runnin' away
There'll be no one to save, with the world in a grave
[Take a look around ya boy, it's bound to scare ya boy]
Yeah, my blood's so mad feels like coagulatin'
I'm sitting here just contemplatin'
I can't twist the truth, it knows no regulation.
Handful of senators don't pass legislation
And marches alone can't bring integration
When human respect is disintegratin'
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin'
Think of all the hate there is in Red China
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama
You may leave here for 4 days in space
But when you return, it's the same old place
The poundin' of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead, but don't leave a trace
Hate your next-door neighbor, but don't forget to say grace
And… tell me over and over and over and over again, my friend
In the song, Eve of Destruction by Barry McGuire, everything around is falling apart, war is breaking loose and there is not much time. The world is crashing down and there is no hope for anything. This song symbolizes what wars are and how destructive they are. Once a war is underway there is no running away from it. Even though this song was written in the sixties and directly referred to the Cold War it reflects feelings towards any war. It shows the truth of how war is and how it affects our community and society. You can sense this fear and concern every time you listen to this song and that is the unfortunate truth of war.
Eve of Destruction deals with the major social issue, War. This is an issue that affects every generation. Although the geographical location or the players may change, innocent people are the ones ultimately affected. War has been an inevitable aspect of the human race since before recorded time. In this song, the Vietnam War was being fought and everyone was being told that it was for the better. That we needed to do it because it we had to stop the expansion of communism and many other reasons. However, the end is always the same, thousands of innocent lives lost on all sided, mass destruction, more poverty and in the end we’re all still the same.
A reference is made that young kids are the ones dying in the war. Young men barely old enough to be out of high school not even ‘old enough to vote’. The public is being told to support the war because they are preparing themselves to fight the enemy in hopes of making a change. Ever since there have been societies there has always been a desire to dominate. This desire has been for many reasons but mainly it has been to dominate its neighbors or to obtain desired resources. Wars have also historically been about differences in religious beliefs. “And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin’” is a call to notice that in an area of such high religious awareness death is also very prevalent.
This song was written in 1968 at the time of the Cold War. The superpowers had built their nuclear military arsenals already to a capacity that could end the human race. The author begs people to stop and see the horrendous truth. The truth behind war; that one small conflict can be the excuse to end the world as we know it. The common people, those who have no control over a country going to war, we are the ones that are always affected. We are the ones hoping for a better tomorrow for our families. All we want is to live in peace and carry out our lives in harmony and happiness. Generals, captains, and soldiers carry out orders that come from their superiors.
War is a social concern in our society because as citizens of it we must decide what is right and what is wrong. It is a huge concern because if we stand by and watch what is happening we will end in an apocalyptic world. This will be the sad reality of what we are promised when we wage war on an enemy because it is touted as the right thing to do. The author expresses his anguish and despair because the truth cannot be ignored – war is destruction. Politicians are only interested in what benefits them and not their constituents; the ones that put them in office. He asks us to look at the hate in Red China. That was in the sixties and forty years later it is still the same Red China full of hate and distrust. “Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama”, he points out. Even right at home where peaceful demonstrations turned violent and all the hatred that was displayed just came to show that we live in a crazy world. He warns us that we are at the eve of destruction and if we continue down the same road the fate of humanity will be sealed.
I tried to put myself in the shoes of people being directly affected by armed conflict. I have concluded that when there is a war, the faith, hope, and dreams of a better place disintegrate into a ditch of nothing. A war traps you where there is no life and nothing to do, but fear it. It imprisons a person’s minds and souls, making them feel worthless and as if their world is crashing down to them. They don’t think they are going to live another day, or see the change they had all been waiting for. The change they believed that would solve all of their problems and live in peace. The unfortunate truth is that the hope and faith are broken when war is just outside your window. Bloodshed causes families to separate and the chances of seeing each other again become nothing but dim hope. For one minute the world can seem intact but the next second there can be nothing but destruction surrounding them. At that moment they take one look at their family and that could be the last, they lose them in a blink of an eye. When people lose their families because of the wars among the nations, there is pain, suffering, and depression ahead, but it is something they must endure. When loved ones are taken away from individuals because of the conflicts of the world, they feel lost, and wonder how they are going live. The hope they once had in their hearts is gone and filled with bitterness and hate, but that is all what war does. It takes what you love most and uses it against your will, and you look up at the sky waiting for a miracle to happen, but never comes. The years that lay ahead are painful, bitter, and sad; and hard as it may be - life must go on.
Poverty and hunger is another problem when there is a war. When there are battles with different countries, people lose their homes and have no where to go. Somehow they must find a spot or place to stay and try to live through out the long restless nights. During the night, people have the fear if the little area they are staying will be bombed and destroyed. While there is rampage happening all around you, there is no safe place to hide, but pray that nothing will happen to you. When these desperate times come because of all the chaos, there is no food to buy. People don’t have the money to buy anything because of the critical situation they are in. The worst are those that have a family because when I a mother look into her child’s eyes she sees fear, confusion, hunger, pain, and desperation to live. The only that’s runs through her mind is to steal and kill any one that crosses her path, anything to protect her child. There are so many problems and reasons why war is a terrible fate; this song describes so much in little words and rhymes. I will stop here because I don’t even want to think of the pain and fear of the families the soldiers left behind. But I am afraid that it is just as grave as what I have already described.
When I am asked if I think war is a social concern, I say “Yes”. I think it is a social concern that affects us on a grand scale and I hope we never see ourselves at the wrong end of it. Living a happy and peaceful life is the dream of every citizen of every country and as another song put it “Did you ever think that we could be like brothers?” We must all be responsible and consider that waging war is not always the best solution to society’s problems.