Pete Seeger: Uniting people through music | We Meditate

Pete Seeger: Uniting people through music

Written by Raghava Payment, CA
Meditating for 15 years

Pete Seeger is an American folk singer, songwriter and social activist, having a career spanning at least five decades and with a long legacy of social activism attached to his name. He is a man of great character and experience, well known for his role in the civil rights/counterculture/ protest song movement of the 1960s. Pete Seeger worked tirelessly his whole life in bringing about peaceful social and political change within American society.

Using traditional and contemporary folk songs, Pete Seeger would unite whole crowds through collective song, bringing men and women from all walks of life together in rapturous unity. The simplest of tunes transformed into great orchestras of sound and passion, drowning out the difference between those singing, leaving only the collective, solitary voice of the One. And these were no songs of superficiality. Rather they were (they are) hymns calling to the humanity within us all! An example of this being found in the song We Shall Overcome, popularized by Mr. Seeger. Here is a small excerpt.

We shall overcome,
We shall overcome,
We shall overcome, some day.
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe
We shall overcome, some day.

We'll walk hand in hand,
We'll walk hand in hand,
We'll walk hand in hand, some day.
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe
We shall overcome, some day.

"We Shall Overcome", first popularized by Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger exemplified the qualities of the Vishuddhi chakra in a way like no other I’ve seen. He believed in the total equality of all people, regardless of skin colour, religion, upbringing or social circumstances. He fought, himself, for the civil rights of black Americans in the 60s, even working with the venerable Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists on incorporating songs into their organizing tactics, “We Shall Overcome” being one of those songs.

Pete Seeger lived through a period of time in which Americans were divided in a way that is now reappearing with striking similarity. Just as they were back then, these lines of division are forming around ideas of race, political inclination, wealth inequality and more.

"The FBI basically pursued Pete Seeger to the point where he couldn't get a job. The only people that he could sing for were kids, because they never thought there'd be a problem with Pete Seeger singing for six-year-olds."

David Dunaway, biographer of Pete Seeger

During his lifetime Mr. Seeger fell under great pressure from the American government, due to the perceived danger of his unAmerican singing. He was pushed in-between a rock and a hard place and given little to no choice. What did he do? But continue to sing.“That is something the human race needs to be reminded of. Don't give up” (Pete Seeger).

The man never stopped; his entire life he devoted to the betterment of humanity. He would sing for any that asked, regardless of whether their beliefs aligned or not. “It's a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with” (Pete Seeger). His legacy lives on even now and I believe he is the kind of man we can all look toward in times of trouble; because as things are now, trouble will never disappear entirely. Not until we are fully out of this Kali Yuga, the age of confusion.

But for now let us simply be content with the celebration of this beautiful soul; for all that he did in his lifetime and all that was given to those to come after. To conclude, I'll leave you with a quote from Pete himself.

“I feel most spiritual when I’m out in the woods. I feel part of nature. Or looking up at the stars. [I used to say] I was an atheist. Now I say, it’s all according to your definition of God. According to my definition of God, I’m not an atheist. Because I think God is everything. Whenever I open my eyes.”

About the author
Raghava Payment, CA
Student of Environmental Management
Meditating for 15 years

Raghava Payment was born in Vancouver Canada, where he has spent most of his life awestruck and inspired by the natural beauty that abounds in this corner of the world.

"By engaging and connecting with works of the great souls that came before, one is able to commune with the eternal spirit of humanity — the living energy — which runs across space and time, connecting all willing people together. It is this experience that inspires my writing and engagement with life. In experiencing the sublime — felt both individually in meditation and transmitted by the great works of others — a person is able to touch the deeper essence of life, found within and without. It is by this deeper connection to life, that meditation provides, which keeps me practising it; and the sameness of that experience, found in the great timeless works of humanity’s artists and scientists, that continues to inspire my own work."