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Musicians Exemplify Compassion and Peace

A few weeks ago, a brief conversation with a friend about 7,000 miles away sparked the impetus for this current blog entry. One of the good fortunes of belonging to the performing arts is the opportunity to have many wonderful music acquaintances and friends around the globe. Whether we have performed together abroad, met through the university system, met through friends, or met through conferences, the musical ties we form become connections that last a lifetime. As my friend and I briefly spoke about the current turmoil in Eastern Europe and all of the senseless human suffering taking place, he pointed out the tragedy that lessons have simply not been learned from the past.

When we think about the past and examine world history, we find so many critical events that have shaped us as a society and as individuals. Different stories and perspectives will influence us all, as will our background, culture, education, travel experiences, and personal philosophies. But when we think about all of these factors, we find a common thread with generation after generation often wondering, “Will there ever be a day when we can attain world peace?” (And this being the question, regardless of where the person lives.)

Although we would hope the answer to this question would be a resounding YES, layers of complicated webs do not allow for this to be the case. So, what are those things that prevent world peace from becoming an actual reality? Well, that’s the debate, isn’t it? The list is long and the solutions offered are varied and complex. However, when we examine those moments where peace and unity have been tangible, we find they often exist at times when music serves as a unifying force for us. Think about it. Sometimes it’s sing-a-longs or jam sessions with friends and family, sometimes it’s school or community rehearsals, concerts in the park or at the beach, and sometimes it’s sold-out events in concert halls, arenas, festivals—you name it. This is the place where performers and fans come together to celebrate a common interest. To consider another view, cultures like those in Ghana begin their day with music, song, and dance. The entire village representative of all ages comes together and for that very moment they are united. Innate creativity and the human experience are unabated.

Well, this is one layer, but is there another layer?

When we think about professions and all of the things we can choose to do in our lives, the possibilities can be endless, depending on where we live. We can study and train for years and work in a sector where we will spend the majority of our years. But when we stop for a moment and think of these different sectors, music is one that stands alone in many ways. What other professions can you begin to learn at the age of 2 or 3? Those that pertain to language would be one. But isn’t music a language all to its own? At this young age, children cannot study engineering, biology, or finance…you get the picture. When a person identifies as a performer, therefore, it’s literally something they may have been doing for the majority of their life. Yes, some folks begin in later years, and it’s never too late to learn music, but that’s beside the point. Is it a mere coincidence that most everyone in the performing arts can embrace people from many backgrounds and put differences aside for the sake of creating music together? Is it something we learn in music class? In rehearsal? Is it because we learn skills related to teamwork, discipline, dedication, and endurance? Is it that we are exposed to compositions from different countries and composers, past and present, and learn the stories behind the compositions that have become history lessons in themselves? Are musicians more often exposed to people from other nations? Well, yes. This combination of experiences all adds up to make a very real difference. Music is a living, breathing vessel of humanity, a medium for expression, a facilitator of unity, a profession of compassion, a symbol of peace, a cultural treasure. For all these reasons, it is vital for children and adults to have exposure to the arts.

By the same token, what if folks in the political sphere acquired multiple years of music education? What if it became established as a prerequisite for becoming a politician or world leader? Perhaps through all of the discord and vicissitudes there might arise a brighter, more peaceful future. Of course, you can cast aside this idea as merely wishful thinking, but what if such a universal exposure to a musical background actually improved our trajectory? If you have experienced performing with others from different walks of life and experienced the inexplicable bond that develops between musicians, then you can grasp the full point being made here. In this present moment, we already have a solution for peace. Let us start by looking within ourselves and truly considering how we want to show up for the world. Maybe it simply requires cultivating the gift we were created to be for others, by reaching our human potential to spread kindness, to be an example of love and understanding, to turn away from engaging in negative situations and refraining from harmful acts and words towards others. To finally set the ego aside and let it rest. Then, upon realizing this restful state, we all sincerely become…peaceful.


What do you feel has been special about your musical ties with international friends?

What do you think it is about the performing arts that encourages peace?

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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