Filk is not always about science, science fiction, and fantasy. It also fills the role that the folk song holds, not surprising since filk evolved from it. Nowadays, country music has claimed much of the folk song role: (my definition) to speak of current events to hold them in our consciousness and move us to action. According to About.com, "Contemporary folk songs cover topics from love and relationships to racism, terrorism, war, voting, education, and religion, among other things."
I'm sure most of you have heard that song from Alan Jackson "Where Were You" asking us each what we remember from the day the planes crashed September 11, 2001. (It was one month before my wedding. A friend called me at home to tell me to turn on the news.) Though an excellent song, beautifully sung, the syrupy nostalgia bothers me a little. Where is the call to action? Where is the lesson we should have learned from this attack on our naivete?
As a folk type of song, it doesn't need those questions answered; it already satisfies the About.com definition. But I grew up listening to albums like Up With People, full of songs about doing things: "Freedom Isn't Free," "Don't Stand Still," "Up With People," and more. (I love "The Happy Song.") I think we need more doing, more learning from the past rather than just remembering it. More inspiration.
Leslie Fish's "Flight 93," a tribute to one group of that day's heroes, satisfies that need for me. Though it is about the people on the plane who chose to take a stand against terror and tyranny, the message for us is that we can each choose to make our own stands against those who would harm others. Though we won't usually have to pay the cost with our death, our choices can and do make a difference for someone else.