So different that similarities are obvious

Ilead.jpgt’s clear that we live in a divided world. The once revered Tea Party Movement that gave way to the First Continental Congress and the eventual independence of our country has now become better known for being bunch of boring white dudes who make signs with a black man, namely our president, with a swastika painted on his forehead.

It all makes for wonderful television as the talking heads and pundits sell Wheaties on the backs of honest people who desire nothing more than factual data, but it eventually does little aside from promoting division amongst our human ranks.

However, through it all, there has been on UNIFYING factor – something that brings us all together as one: music.

In the “real” world, everyone is always looking for someone to blame. With the latest travesty, the oil rig that exploded and spilled its contents into the gulf of Mexico, destroying everything in its path, be it our ecosystem or the livelihoods of those who have been or will inevitably be affected, the government blames BP.

The people blame the government and BP.

Rush Limbaugh blames President Obama and his socialist yellow environmentalists.

shehi2.jpgIn the quest to place blame, divisiveness ensues, and the real kicker is that Leonard Cohen could have told us that it was coming. “That’s how it goes, everybody knows” he prophesied on 1988’s record, I’m Your Man.

We’re judgmental human beings, and through a vast overhaul and period of recent introspection, I must admit that I am as judgmental as the next guy. For example, there will be some cat who apparently emerged from the loins of Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church (the ones who stand at busy intersections and at the graves of dead soldiers with signs that proclaim things such as God Hates F***) blundering through the comment, “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” Immediately I will think “Love does not discern gender, you small and irrelevant hick.” Sarah Palin cried out, “Drill baby drill!” and the thought “ignorance is not bliss” immediately came to mind, followed abruptly by the resounding assertion to self, “I am so fucking smart!” I judge them out of my disdain for their judgmental nature or statements. Hence, I am as in the wrong as they are.

While what divides and their resulting judgments are as clear as the Caribbean Sea, the question is what has the power to bring us together?

Please understand that this is not a dissertation in how to be narrow. Certainly there are systems, traditions, religions, etc. that truss certain sects of our society. However, there is one thing that has the propensity to unite our race with more ease than any other modality. The modality is music.

shehi1.jpgI remember a story that an older gentleman once told me about going to a James Brown concert in the mid-60s. In the Deep South city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, he and a friend made their way into a room of what turned out to be only African Americans. Upon arrival, he described a feeling of fear that overcame him. As he told it, he and his friend were the only “white guys there.” At that moment, he realized how “they” felt on a daily basis.

But that is far from the most important part of the story in my mind’s eye. “Then the lights went down,” he said. “Everyone was the same color” he told me as chills rolled up my leg and through my spirit. He described dancing with women and a sense of conviviality amongst the men around him that at least seemed at the time to be unprecedented for him. The music transcended the most blatant difference of the day and time.

“The day before,” he recalled, he was “better than them.” But from that night forward, they were equals.

On that night, he etched his way into humility by becoming an equal. He found himself on common ground and as a result, parallelism resulted in the kindred bonding of the largest proportion of them all, the human and spiritual proportion. And it all happened because they were all under the influence of something that was greater than either them or their preconceived notions of each other…music.

I encourage taking a look around next time when dancing on the grounds of a festival. Discover humility by recognizing equality. Listen rather than speak. Harness the energy of togetherness. Make a difference by uncovering the similarities and common purpose rather than noting the obvious differences.

If led to perpetuate something positive of mass proportions, make use of tools that bind rather than divide. Common ground is where change can take place. Find the ground and mark it as “ours.” Do as my older friend did. Be different by being the same.