MANILA, Philippines – “Do they know it’s Christmas?”
Asks a poignant but pointed question by the eponymous 1984 song composed by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure as performed by the supergroup Band Aid to raise funds for the victims of the disruptive famine in Ethiopia from 1983 to 1985.
With the world closer than ever to a global clash of countries that even Pope Francis refers to this grave condition as the earth in the brink of “World War III,” with children inarguably always a war’s smallest sacrifices, artists are taking again to songs and poems to avert a war’s catastrophic capabilities.
This Dec. 10, Caroline Kennedy (not to be confused with JFK’s daughter) who had appeared in films made in the Philippines and a featured character in Nonoy Marcelo’s iconic comic strip, Tisoy, is releasing the anti-war CD, Not in Our Name.
Kennedy untiringly advocates peace. Her almost daily confrontations on war issues in Facebook posts express this activism. Only an invitation to visit Manila in 1968 averted her plan to cover the Vietnam War. She also worked with the refugees of Bosnia and Croatia in the late 1990s.
Benedicto “Bencab” Cabrera, undeclared as a National Artist by then, commemorated the brave act with a painting of a mother, father and child as war victims titled The Family (1999) for a big fundraising event Kennedy organized for the refugee camp, The Children’s Village. Marlon Brando, Angelica Huston, Michael Jackson, Tony Curtis, Tony Bennett and many other stars also made donations.
Kennedy also worked in Azerbaijan in a post-war setting. Her work on both war zones is featured in her blog site,www.anywhereiwander.wordpress.com.
Nascent of the Not In Our Name CD started when Kennedy threw out an impeachment suggestion on Facebook in July. She proposed it might be a good idea to bring out a CD that opposes war for Christmas with proceeds being donated to the victims of the “illegal” war in Iraq.
Response was tremendous. Original poems, songs and adapted carols loaded Kennedy’s inbox. So, she set up a selection committee and that’s how it shaped up.
Titled Not In Our Name, the CD tells of the politicians’ decision to go into war despite people’s protests, despite international lawyers determining it as unlawful, and despite millions around the world marching against it.
A wonderful mixture of 22 specially written songs and poems as sung or read by the likes of Cary Elwes, Maxine Peake, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Michael Smiley, Earl Okin, Tim Hain among others, the Not In Our Name CD is the perfect stockings filler for Christmas.
Known to venture into the committed, Kennedy keyed in her laptop the serious and satirical: Two long-form poems recorded in Los Angeles by her nephew Cary Elwes of The Princess Bride fame; two adapted songs as performed by the Not In Our Name Choir; and one adapted Christmas carol,Somewhere in Baghdad to the tune of Away in a Manger.
Kennedy handles her media brilliantly, perhaps not so subtly, by incorporating biting realism and criticism to complete the message of hatred for war and the total rejection of their perpetrators. Maybe the protest that it pushes is season-incongruent but what is the best time to appeal to end war but during the holiday of love and peace.
“No one wants more war this Christmas or for the matter, for all time. No one wants more killings. Wars create another generation of terrorists and we can’t allow that to happen again,” emphasizes Kennedy.
The Not In Our Name CD repeats John Lennon who sang in even less turbulent times: “War is over / If you want it / War is over / Now.”
To purchase and contribute to the rehabilitation of Iraq War victims, go to the Not In Our Name website and press the “Order CD” button.