Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Heroes We Need


Like all of us, I admire mastery and appreciate the super-stars in any field. Love watching Steph and Lebron and KD shoot their three-pointers, love listening to Chick and Keith and Herbie and Brad and Fred tearing up and down the piano, love hearing the poetic eloquence of David Whyte, Mary Oliver and Alice Walker. When it comes to Social Justice, I always start with the big three—Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela.

But this is dangerous territory, the giving over of your own power to be content to bask in the reflected light of the “stars.” In my own work teaching music, I emphasize the opposite—discovering the musicality waiting to be expressed in each of us at the level that we’re ready for. And finding out that a group of people who have never practiced or studied much music can actually create something of surprising power and beauty with a simple rhyme like “Criss Cross Applesauce” or “Rain Rain Go Away.” None of this takes away from those who have dedicated themselves to more intricate, nuanced, technically-proficient forms of music-making, all of it actually adds to it, helping us all appreciate the sacrifice and dedication the masters have made to give us the additional pleasure of being an audience as well as a maker of music.

The time is ripe for us to do the same with social justice. "We are the people we have been waiting for" says an old Hopi prophecy and while we rightfully continue to honor the past "super-heros of social justice," what we now need is for everyone to get off the bench and into the game. I just witnessed the extraordinary testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings and there it is, a sterling example of what it might mean for all of us to stop being silent about the things that matter because we don’t want to “rock the boat.” The boat has crashed onto the rocks and we’re stuck in a dangerous place and we need everyone on board to rock it so we can get things flowing again!

Dr. Ford is a person like you and me who would rather be teaching her classes and taking a walk in the park with her family, but has bravely chosen to speak truth at the exact time when it is needed to stop the pipeline of shameless morally bereft good-ole-boys from continuing to rise to power and make life miserable for us all. Who are these people now stalking her with death threats and computer hacks and vile character slander? And the people who excuse them? They are our neighbors and distant family and all of them empowered to vote. And then there are the thousands of others rising up to support her—count me in here!—and that's where the hope lies. It takes bravery beyond what most of us have to even speak up in an office meeting about a dubious decision! But now's the time to stand and be counted. And also at the polls in November!

Don’t be shy about polluting your Facebook feeds with something that someone might feel—Gasp!— is too political. Political rants, no, but affirming the truth of Dr. Ford’s testimony by sharing your own experiences, calling for a higher moral character than we currently have, encouraging people who been content to sit on the bench and let the first-string play the game to get up and join in, that’s the kind of energy rising up and while there’s safety in numbers, please join us.

Blessings to Dr. Ford and may we all rise and follow her example!

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