Yesterday we received a CARE package from West Africa. It came in the person of our good friend from Ghana, Kofi Gbolonyo, part of a generous movement of African people who feel sorry for our country and want to help us out. He and his fellow Ghanaians see that millions of us are so starved in spirit and intelligence that in desperation to feed some inexplicable hunger in the land of plenty, we stole from the house of Democracy and voted in a Despot.
Like everyone, the folks in Ghana have their own challenges and problems, but cultivating their spirit through happy and powerful music and dance is not of them. Each drum ensemble is a living, breathing democracy where all contribute from their part and each part is deeply connected with every other part. And though some parts are fixed without much variation, many are fluid and changing according to an ongoing conversation between the drummers and the dancers and the singers and the master drummers. And everyone in the ensemble has been prepared to vote intelligently and participate in an actual conversation (not a shouting match), to call, to respond, to keep the music moving forward so that it invigorates, refreshes and makes the moment happy and beautiful.
So that’s the CARE package that Kofi so generously shared with us in our benefit concert for his school. Because yes, they need a bit of what we have, that green power of money to build a physical building. We do that money thing well—we raised a lot of it and that was a happy occasion. But the greater part of the benefit concert was how the kids benefitted from learning the music and dance, how the audience benefitted from partaking of strong and soul-stirring music in our time of need, how the fancy building we built years ago now was becoming yet more real and alive as the soul-force of the performance charged the air and settled into the beams and floorboards.
Time to switch that shallow-liberal-philanthropic-do-gooder notion of helping the poor people in Africa and recognize that we people in the United States have shown the world our paucity of spirit, our broken morality, our wounded souls— and the world is beginning to pity us. As well they might.
But no one on either side wants pity. We want connection and determination to work together to throw the money-lenders out of the temple of this fragile Earth, the courage to gather our spiritual powers and vanquish the ten-headed demons of our undigested grief and hatred, the intelligence to forego the million and one distractions of footballs games and shopping malls and endless trivial texting and do some worthy, authentic and children-worthy activities when the sun rises each day.
And Kofi is here to help us.