Over half a century ago, after having left university to start a serious search for answers to and about life, I was in the Hollywood Bowl one evening, listening to a classical music concert under the stars, when I got thinking about the favelas in Rio, which were in the news at the time, for whatever reason. There was such a disconnection between those two worlds; my living such a rich-environment life in southern California, and the poor in the rickety favela ‘homes’ climbing up the hillsides in that distant country, and city. But instantly, through the music - too, reaching for the heavens - I realized the connection between our worlds.
Human culture. Principally, music.
An international language. If not the international language.
It also reminded me of my somewhat painful attempts to engage in the world of music, when my mother, unbeknownst to me, organized for me to learn how to play a musical instrument. Somehow ‘it’ turned out to be the clarinet; and I played it dutifully from then - I was in about the fifth grade at the time - through junior high, when I gave it up upon entering high school, and being too involved in other things to continue with it. I was not a bad clarinet player - I succeeded in becoming first chair in my junior high school orchestra - but it, simply, wasn’t my cup of tea. I was not a natural. Now basketball; that was a different story...
But back to this story. Sitting there in the open air, being bathed in the notes and harmonies of a first-class orchestra, I realised the value of music in bringing us humans together, in common cause, of creating a better world together than the one we were living in. There were far too many in poverty around the world. There was something wrong with The System; and I would find myself, some years later, finally realising - really getting - what that was. It was money. Specifically, interest-bearing money.
This was not the way to make music together, I thought. We need to get our act together better, I thought further. Not, that it would be nice if we did. But that we needed to. It was imperative, for our wellbeing, that we did; and for that of the planet. Gaia, our home away from home: beginning to hurt terribly from our treating her ungraciously, even at that stage. As I say, this was over half a century ago, now.
And it’s now time to do something about it. Because we don’t have much more time, before it will be too late, to wake up, and realise that we have been living in a dream. A dream of producing more and more stuff, that isn’t basically needed, in order to continue to grow - and produce even more unnecessary stuff - which isn’t the answer to the future. The answer to the future is to blend our instruments, and create harmonious music. Not discord.
And a good way to get to that answer would be to help the poor have access to the wherewithal to make music. That we can blend our instruments that way; metaphorically. But also truly. For we have all been written into the same piece of music by the same Composer. And it’s time to do Him, and ourselves, the honour of holding a great concert, on planet Earth, beneath the same stars that shine upon us all.
Come let us join our many golden flickerings, and create one life; together. Forever. - in the words of a song by the New Troubadours (‘Change Can Come’). That note sounded almost forty years ago, now.
It really is time.
28 October 2011