If I Had A Hammer

I watched it on the TV, machine guns
Fire towards the ground, I watched the people run
Helicopter gunship strafing the street
I watched them lining up the bodies in the Baghdad heat
They say these leaks had consequences, and I must agree
When I saw them fire on the children, it affected me
I thought what if I were wearing the other shoe
If I had a hammer, what would I do

I am just a person like anyone
I am just another mother’s son
I have no special powers, I cannot fly
Not like that helicopter gunship up in the sky
Sending all those bullets all around
To the journalists and children on the ground
I am just one man, that’s very true
But if I had a hammer, what would I do

Sometimes I try to wonder, why should I care
But then the answer seems so obvious – there are people down there
And right here in Queensland there’s an Army base
And there’s a helicopter gunship just sitting in place
There’s a time for watching, there’s a time to act
It’s just gonna kill more children if it remains intact
I am just one person, but you are, too
If you had a hammer, what would you do

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If I Had A Hammer

“If I Had A Hammer” originally appeared on the Bandcamp album, Spies Are Reading My Blog (2013).  In 2014 it became the title track of a CD that is a collection of songs from 3 different Bandcamp albums, including Spies.

I was stranded in Tokyo, after being denied entry to New Zealand, and I got an email from my friend and comrade, Ciaron O’Reilly, who is originally from Australia.  Ciaron told me about a trial taking place in Australia at the time, against two Plowshares activists who did what Plowshare activists have done around the world, namely trespassing onto a military base and damaging military equipment.  In the case of Bryan Law and Graeme Dunstan, they went looking for a helicopter gunship, inspired by seeing what such a gunship did to children and journalists on the streets of Baghdad, Iraq a few years earlier — which we only got to find out about because of the heroism of one whistle-blower named Chelsea Manning.  There’s a documentary about this action.   The song is about this action but it is also a tribute to all the Plowshares activists who have ever done anything similar.  Oh, obviously it’s the same title as the song by Pete Seeger, but a different song.

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