It makes sense that the unthinkable brutality this week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL would be a crystalizing moment, no? But the heart-wrenching truth is that since the massacre at Sandy Hook in 2012 there have been at least 138 people murdered in over 200 shootings in schools. Read that again and let it sink in… I’ll give you a moment…
Like so many others, I am heartbroken, angry, disgusted, and bewildered. Even with an unimaginable number of mass shootings and deaths (my research to give you actual statistics led me down a rabbit hole of wretched oblivion), we continue to argue hatefully rather that to reasonably address the horrific realities that allow this to be happening. The fact that so much death is taking place in the place we freely send our children to learn, socialize, interact, express themselves, and discover the world and each other is utterly and deeply disorienting to my mind and heart.
Are you afraid? You probably are and justifiably so. But, do we realize that for many of us, our very existence has come to be based in fear? Probably not. Our fears can overcome us to the point that we think they are the only truth. This leaves us only to argue, defend, react, and live from the pervading and all-consuming belief that we are all out to get one another. Self-preservation at all cost is crippling and, literally, killing us. So we pray and hope.
Whatever you believe about life or God or the universe… there is no denying that we have free will. While we may pray or hope or wish for change for a better world for ourselves and our children and grandchildren, we must also realize that there is something else for us to do.
And, whatever you believe about our right to bear arms, there is no denying that it is our responsibility to treat weapons with the same common sense caution as we do so many other (including far less lethal) of man’s astounding inventions.
Lawn darts are outlawed but automatic rifles are not. We need training and a license to operate a car, but not to purchase an instrument of war. One man carried a bomb in his underwear and we have airport body scans. Not to mention fireworks and guard rails and glass containers and sealed packaging and having more that 5 cats…
And there is this… After 58 people were murdered and 850 more wounded by a man at a concert in Las Vegas, House Resolution 367 – “The Hearing Protection Act” – is being proposed to make it easier to obtain the very type of “silencer” he used…. to preserve the shooters hearing. WAIT!!!! WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!!! True.
Have we lost our mind? Yes. Yes, I think collectively we have. But as I said, “there is something for us to do”. The doing, giving, saying, and acting may be different for each of us, but we must all DO SOMETHING.
For me that something is Music in Common. As I hear the stories and visions and demands from the students who survived the shooting in Parkland, I think about MIC participants with whom we have worked over the past 8 years. Whether they live in the United States or the Middle East, they represent the generation that is about to inherit our rubbish. They have something to say. They have said it in over 40 songs that can been heard here.
Like the teens in Parkland this week, they have questions and concerns and ideas and demands and perhaps even solutions. But do we hear them? Are we really listening and valuing and respecting their voices? They can’t vote, so do their voices matter?
Let’s remember that teens sitting at lunch counters, riding buses, writing their stories, speaking out loud and marching in the streets have already altered our collective views of segregation, child labor, civil rights, and war. Do not underestimate the power of a generation whose inheritance is our collective madness.
They are a generation who has more technology in the palm of their hand than the entire world had just 20 years ago. We use it to monitor them, sell to them, preach to them… let’s use it to hear them and to protect them.
Music in Common gives young men and women a place to speak their minds, a place to listen to one another and to exchange ideas, empowering them with tools to collect their thoughts and put them to paper. We offer a platform to put creative energy to use, to use the power of music to express themselves and to share their values, questions, visions, hopes, dreams and yes, demands, widely. We give them a worldwide stage where they can be heard and feel valued.
And, most inspiring to me is that from what I have seen, they are willing and eager to engage with open minds and they are far less divided and steadfastly opposed to one another than any government, community, culture, or religion. We can do better and be better by listening to them.
Their collective mind is not lost, it is determined.
This is me DOING SOMETHING. What are you DOING?
In Peace ~ L
MIC Director of Outreach & Engagement
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