With all of the distressing news pouring from every outlet seemingly every moment of the day, I have to make a decision to choose hope over fear. I have not been sleeping well, I am anxious, I am finding myself becoming quick to anger- so not me. I finally realized that staying informed does not mean that I have to sacrifice my sanity – or my quality of life. Life is just too short to spend it worrying all the time.
I realize that I cannot fix what I deem as broken, but I can be a positive force making small changes where I am able. I can be kind, I can be accepting of those different from me, I can face hate with love. I can’t change the minds of those who feel just as strongly as I do in the other direction, but I can show them the respect of listening to them, I can work to understand and to compromise. This polarization happening is poisonous to a society, and I want to try my best to come to the middle where there is a chance to meet and work together- some hope of dialogue and the possibility of moving forward as a people.
This past weekend I hosted my annual UAB Clarinet Symposium, where over one hundred clarinetists from 6th graders to people in their seventies gathered together in their love of the instrument. We represented the full political spectrum, we were male, female, black, white, Asian, Latino, gay, straight, and people of many faiths, I have no doubt. Most importantly, we were humans speaking together in the universal language of music.
I love that music is colorblind. It doesn’t care who you voted for, who you love, or how you live- it unifies us and helps to heal the wounds of division. I am going to lean heavily on the lessons and gifts of music. When I do that, it helps me see the bigger picture- that we are all human beings who truly have more in common than we may realize. For that reason, I will stubbornly cling to hope, doing my best to make the world a better place through music, through love, through compassion- and a healthy dash of laughter and joy mixed in.