Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This I Believe

For my Composition class, I was asked to read articles from the National Public Radio's recurring segment, This I Believe. 'This I Believe' is based on a 1950's radio program which gave celebrities and average joes alike, the opportunity to share their opinions and life experiences. I poured over essays written by Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and many others. Then, I came across a sentiment which struck a chord with me;

"I believe in the human race. I believe in the warm heart. I believe in man’s integrity. I believe in the goodness of a free society. And I believe that the society can remain good only as long as we are willing to fight for it—and to fight against whatever imperfections may exist."
-Jackie Robinson
from his essay,

These powerful words got me thinking; What do I believe? I believe in God, yes, but not everyone can relate to faith in a Christian God. Everyone has their own interpretation of what 'faith' means to them. Certainly though, there is a belief or idea that is universal, something we can all share, regardless of denomination, race or gender. I mulled the idea over in my head and, as I usually do to pass the time, I opened my playlist and pressed shuffle. Then it hit me. I'd like to say I had an epiphany, but it was more of a 'duh' than an 'Aha' moment.

I believe in Music.

I believe in the power of music to heal. I have witnessed firsthand the ability of an instrument or song to give meaning to a feeling or situation, when spoken word can not. When I was going to college in Texas, I worked with a six year old boy, Malik, who was autistic. It was a daily struggle to get him to make eye contact, speak, or connect with me, and also with his fellow classmates. Malik would throw tantrums and scream for hours on end, simply because he was trying desperately to communicate to me what he needed or wanted or felt, but his efforts were lost in translation. When his frustration would give way to physical fits of throwing things and hitting me, I would have to restrain him to keep him from hurting himself or others.

On one particular day, his tantrum had lasted well over the hour mark and I was becoming exhausted, I was almost in tears and had nearly run out of ideas of how to calm him. To this day, I don't know where the idea came from but I started humming 'Amazing Grace'. He immediately quieted. It was then I realized the power of music to bring people together. Although I couldn't understand what he was trying to tell me, and he couldn't understand that I was just trying to calm him, we both understood music. We both knew the comfort of the familiar tune, and each of us had positive memories tied to it.

I believe that the people of this earth are more alike than we are different. Listen, I'm not saying that music is the healing force that will end the wars and bring about peace on earth. I'm not saying that all differences are resolvable and if we just hold hands and sway, singing together in four-part harmonies, there would be no conflict. I simply believe that if we all focus on the simple things in life that bind us together, the shared experiences, it would be a lot easier to relate to one another. Instead of focusing on the differences which may frighten or concern us, I believe we should fix our gaze on the similarities all tenants of our planet share.

"Over the Rainbow" Iz Kamakawiwo'ole
"I Believe" Blessid Union of Souls

photo credit:

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails