Sunday, July 15, 2012

An Army of Musicians

One of my favorite features of my iPod is the Notes feature.  I used it to write blog posts when I didn't have a computer as I was traveling. Now I find myself making notes on it during conversations, while I am listening to the radio, or while watching TV or a movie.  I also write down random thoughts I'm afraid I'll forget if I don't write them in the moment.

From time to time, I sort through the notes, deleting and updating as needed.  Just now I was looking through them and found an idea I wrote on May 14: "an army of musicians, whose task is to play music, to spread beauty, to protect our souls by nurturing them, to bring our defenses down, to calm us so we can rationally resolve conflict rather than kill to do so..."

I was in Budva, Montenegro at the time.  When I was in Podgorica a few days before I'd seen a billboard advertising paint with an image of a tank, painted pink and blue with flowers. I love this image.  It reminded me of being in Turin, Italy, where I saw a group of military musicians preparing to give a concert.  No guns slung over shoulders or caressed in arms, as I'd seen in Israel, the last place I'd noticed any military presence.  Just a group of men, standing around relaxed or getting out their tubas and trumpets.  I think that is where my May 14 thought originated.  

I am currently reading a novel called The Cellist of Sarajevo. Fiction based on a true story, it is about a cellist who, after a mortar attack in his neighborhood in Sarajevo, decides to go to the spot of the attack and play his cello for 22 days, one day for each person killed in the attack.  Like the army of musicians in my imagination, the cellist plays music to spread beauty and to protect souls, first his own, but equally anyone who hears his music.  It reminds his listeners of their humanity.  Music has that power, the power to reach the deepest and best part of us that sometimes gets buried under the rubble of daily living, especially daily living in a war zone, whether literal or figurative.  Creative endeavors, in general, have that power.  That is why art can be dangerous to those clinging to a dictatorial power.  Art is liberating, both for the artists and for those who immerse themselves in it.  

Tanks turned into pink and blue flower machines.  An army trained to kill turned into an army trained to revive spirits through music.  Creative powers. Transformational.  Liberating.   Ideas I can get behind, though I doubt I will ever see them.   They bring to mind the passage from Isaiah 2:4 (NIV): "They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation will not take up sword against nation nor will they train for war anymore."  It is another transformational notion, destructive tools turned into creative ones.  As I was looking for the Bible passage to quote, I came across an article from earlier this year about Kentucky soldiers training for a special agribusiness mission in Afghanistan.  While I am skeptical about the article in a way I can't quite put my finger on, I do like the basic idea of soldiers doing something that is more than "defense."  Perhaps it humanizes soldiers in Afghanistan in a way I need them to be humanized.  Maybe in the "Love Thy ________ neighbor" blank, "soldier" is a word that I need to write in.

Tanks turned into pink and blue flower machines.  An army trained to kill turned into an army trained to revive spirits.  Though I doubt I will ever see them, I will keep the ideas in my mind, for if I don't, if someone doesn't, they can never happen.  We, myself included, are only limited by the narrowness of our minds.  Let us imagine pink and blue tanks, armies of musicians, destructive forces (maybe even ourselves at times) turned into creative powers.  And then let us turn what is in our imagination into reality.

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