Today, violence and hatred was visited on the sleepy capital of our country. It was a shock to most of us. This is of course a very small taste of the kind of pain and suffering people in other lands must face on a daily basis. We watch images of it on television on the nightly news, but it is always far away. When such evil surfaces in our society, in any of its myriad forms, what can we do? Heightened security measures won't prevent it, more guns won't help, political rhetoric of any kind will aggravate it.
When others wage war, musicians can wage peace.
I got to play a lovely concert tonight with some fine musicians from the Hindustani and Carnatic music traditions. The sound of the tanpura drone gently filled the room, melodies unfolded, ideas and rhythms were traded back and forth. The audience was sitting very close, listening very hard, completely focused on the music. Outside, the rain was pouring down with a vengeance, there were traffic and city noises, a drug deal was probably going down at the 7-11 across the street. But music made the outside world disappear for a time. People smiled, hugged, drank tea and ate cookies, laughed and chatted with each other at the intermission. Even the ear infection that has been bothering me for 2 days completely stopped. I think it was Vidyasagar's incredible singing of raga Pantuvarali that did it.
I know that while we were playing our concert, in many places in the world people were and are at war, suffering from cold, hunger, disease, and fear. But I also know that in many other places in the world, people were playing music, painting, dancing, speaking poetry, writing books, acting plays, telling stories. Darkness and destruction will continue to be realities, but we don't have to despair or succumb. We can choose to exercise our true birthright as human beings to create beauty, order, light, and meaning and to share these things with each other. These acts of creation and sharing are acts of love. When we choose to do engage with acts of creation, as artists or audience members, we are in that moment tipping the scales ever so slightly in favour of the good and the just, the pure and the beautiful.