Bruce Springsteen – A Mentor for Dads Teaching Social Responsibility

Getting Real With David T. Bruce

There are moments when one person affects our lives in such a way that our world view changes considerably; in essence, we become different people. This happens rarely, making such a moment even more significant and profound. Meeting that one person we ultimately fall in love with, the birth of a child, or perhaps becoming the student of a particular educator or a mentor that touches our soul or challenges us to see ourselves and our world differently: these moments qualify as potentially perspective- or life-altering.

Married and a father of five children, I have been profoundly affected by spending more than three hours as an audience member of a Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band concert on April (Friday) the 13th. My emotion is not that of a star-struck groupie nor is this hero worship, although the latter instance may be slightly possible and understandable.

Springsteen’s music has been a part of my music collection since the time that millions of listeners climbed aboard the E Street Band wagon: when Born in the U.S.A. was released. The music was easy to dance to and to rock to; the accompanying videos that were a staple for the MTV generation were engaging and entertaining. Over time, however, I became enthralled with the words of Springsteen’s music, his relationship with his band members, and the relationship that he has fostered with his fans. More so, I became riveted by his citizenship. I grew up and grew into who Springsteen was and what I believe he represents.

Bruce Springsteen has shown through his words and by his actions how he feels about his home, his country, and the citizens of his country. He speaks out against government and corporate corruption, and he deplores the system that allows fifteen percent of Americans to live below poverty level. Over the years he has donated thousands of dollars to food banks across the United States, encouraging others to do the same. His most recent recording, Wrecking Ball, is an oration against the pervasive, systematic erosion of the fundamental rights and beliefs that have been the foundation of our nation. Within Springsteen and in his conviction, I find a kinship.

As I finally found the opportunity to see Springsteen on stage, granted from the nose-bleed section, my admiration for the man and for what he has been and is trying to accomplish surged. Unlike many musicians and politicians, Springsteen is real and he is accessible. He speaks and sings of his hopes and dreams for this country. He demonstrates the love he has for his family, his band, his fans, and the ordinary people of our country.

I found myself cheering as Springsteen challenged the establishment to bring on their “Wreckin’ Ball” and as he sang about hope in “Born to Run” and “The Rising”. I found myself moved to tears as he sang “Jack of all Trades,” a song that highlights the struggles of the jobless and the homeless Americans (whose ranks continue to grow, while corporate coffers swell), and as he sang of his personal loss, often reflecting on the recent passing of E Street Band saxophonist, Clarence “Big Man” Clemons.

I did not look around at others members of the audience to see if they were cheering or crying. For me, this was a moment for me to somehow connect with a man I have grown to love and respect, a man whose spirit has become a part of me. We all need to have validation that how we feel is justified and that what we do has meaning. In this respect, both of us win.

From where I was sitting, I believed that we were both fathers who have strong feelings about injustices suffered by those without a voice and about what it means to genuinely care for those around you. We both have strong feelings about our role as citizens as well as parents. Even though the social circles we live in must differ, our values transcend those differences. Springsteen allows his audience to connect with him in this manner. This feeling – this connection – is what I hope to share with my son, as he grows and as he strives to be a musician; I hope to share this with all of my children.

Regardless of where we come from or what social circle we are born into, we are all extra-ordinary, and we all have a responsibility to one another. We each share in the shame that comes from living in a community in which someone goes hungry, and we each can share in finding solutions to poverty and injustice, while simultaneously taking action to make a change.

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