“The blind boy can see for such a long time
My hearts affixed and I made up mind
Somebody said your boy should go home,
But God gave me strength to carry on”
Where’s the meaning?
While on its face naming the group The Blind Boys of Alabama might seem a misnomer given that Clarence Fountain and Jimmy Carter (the surviving founding members) are both in their late 80’s, The Blind Boys have been singing about their faith since they were just that – schoolboys. Despite being born blind, African Americans in Jim Crow dominated Alabama during the height of the Great Depression, The Blind Boys not only overcame their circumstances, but devoted their lives to their music, and in the process defined the trials and tribulations of African American life in the American South, all while preaching a message of hope and love through faith in God.
Draped in bright, upbeat funk licks, “I May Not Can See” touches on some of the hardships associated with blindness, but point to the paltry score of these difficulties in the face of belief and sight delivered through God. While blindness has rendered them unable to see the physical things in this world, even the blind can help people see that there is more to life than the material and physical. Further, faith will guide and protect in the face of all forms of hardship and strife. Instead of focusing on worldly, material desires – “some people want an Acura, some people want to haggle from town to town. It’s not me, I want y’all to see.” – a focus on higher beliefs is the ticket to a calm and happy mind and soul.
For many, faith is a driving force, a power that guides and steers by sheer force of will and without – and sometimes in spite of – physical, sensory verification. Just as a blind man knows that “the sun shines a bright” and “the moon comes out every night” without the ability to see it in a physical sense, The Blind Boys don’t require physical reinforcement to know that God exists and is watching over them. Through this belief in God, life is simplified. Focusing not on limitations or position, but on our faith, may be the ticket to a happier, more content life.
Do we allow the limitations, and not the beliefs, of ourselves and others guide and define us? Would it be a better use of our energy to submit more to a sense of faith and less on personal yearnings and aspirations?
What will the role and importance of faith in western society be if the gradual pivot away from organized religion toward more secular communities organized in smaller groups around common activities and interests and not driving faiths and moralities continues?