Sing To Me

“Without music, life would be a mistake.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

What is it about music that changes us? How can it take us to another dimension of love and depth of emotion?

Music is that thing that doesn’t necessarily take away our weariness or solve the day’s problems. But when that song comes on, the one that resonates with us, who we are deep down meets who we think we should be and for a few moments, those two entities are the same. Equal. This resonance is essential for our health.

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
― Bob Marley

What is that one song that will take you away? The one that draws you back into beautiful memories and makes you hopeful for such experiences in the future?

“If I can’t dance to it, it’s not my revolution.”
― Emma Goldman

Which song makes you remember the reason you get out of bed each morning? Which one makes you want to change the world?

For me, folk music stirs. Oh it stirs me. Nicknamed “The People’s Music,” folk is full of activism and stories passed down through the generations. Stories of advocacy and culture, stories of social cohesion and historical events, stories full of poetry and metaphor. Many folk songs have no copyright; they are meant to be shared collectively, sung together around tables and fires, creating a dimension between humans which could not be otherwise achieved without the rhythmic notes. It is not commercial music. It is the music of the people. The people protesting. The people hoping. The people praying. The people fighting the government and large corporations. The people unified with decency and love. Folk is Woody Gutherie. Folk is Pete Seeger. Folk is Ani Difranco.

“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances. ”
― Maya Angelou

What is that song that you can let loose to? The one that makes you dance like a fool?

Each of us has a song deep down. We sometimes forget the words and what it sounds like, but it is there. Loving someone deeply means sharing your song with them so they can sing it back to you when you’ve forgotten the words.

What’s your song? And why is it yours? Was it played at your wedding, your graduation, during a difficult or joyful time? Share it with me in the comments section. I’d be totally honored to know.

I will sing with you tonight.

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The Weathered Hands of a Nobel Peace Laureate

I apologize for my delayed posts as of late as I have been trying to meet other deadlines in a busy spring semester; however, ideas for posts and this blogging community are frequently on my mind.

It is my great pleasure to relay to you the sentiments of Dr. Shirin Ebadi. This past Friday night, Belmont University partnered with STARS to host the Mid-South Peace-Jam event. A human rights organization, Peace-Jam teaches youth  about peace, allows them to develop peace proposals for various topics, and then present these to Nobel Peace Laureates at an annual conference. Pretty cool, huh?! This year, Dr. Ebadi was invited to receive the youth peace proposals and to be the keynote speaker.

The night began with a techie-heavy video that defined the sometimes ambiguous term: “human rights.” The short video can be found here and is well worth your time. After video, Dr. Ebadi took the stage. In 2003, Dr. Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer, was  awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at a historic ceremony, signifying the first Iranian to have received this distinction.

Fall 2012 Beauty 100

Dr. Ebadi is a small woman with a big voice. She spoke of the disjunct between the Iranian people and their government, stating that many Iranians do not promote the enrichment of uranium in their country, even though their government will not back down from it. She spoke of Iran’s involvement in Syria and about human rights violations occurring within Iran’s borders. Two womens testimonies in court are the equivalent of one man’s; by law, the life of a woman is considered half of that of a man’s. If one is not a Shi’a Muslim, life is very difficult, and often results in religious persecution (even Sunni Muslims experience this in Iran).

She spoke of the harsh economic sanctions imposed on Iran by western countries (ie. the US), sanctions which have affected the citizens in many detrimental ways. She suggested this was not the best or most humane way to force the government to disarm; instead she suggested very specific political sanctions.

When asked when she believes Iran will be a full democracy, she questioned the definition of democracy. Yes, Iranian citizens can vote, but do they all have basic human freedoms, such as a freedom of speech and religion? No. So, in her opinion, a true democracy does not exist in her country. She is hopeful that such structure will come through students and through feminists: stating: “The feminist movement is very strong in Iran, so is the student movement. I am sure that one day democracy of Iran will be brought through the youth.” I am happy to suggest the same is true for America, in that, I believe positive change is coming through students and feminism.

Asking the last question, a female student quietly inquired: “What can we do?” Shirin responded by saying: students must not be indifferent about what goes on in their country and the world. They must be informed activists. They must have larger goals for their life than achieving PhD’s or buying houses, (though these aren’t inherently negative), they must be real human beings.

Wow.

Though she is currently exiled to London, it is clear that Shirin is still fighting for the human rights and dignities of her countrymen/women.

Though this woman can’t be taller than 5’1, is Iranian, and does not speak my native tongue, I suspect she and I are a lot alike. We believe that equality is a prerequisite for peace and that we, as humans, have a social responsibility to each other to work for these human rights. She and I realize that when women are disenfranchised, so are children, and so are men, everyone is. That when Iranians and Syrians suffer human rights violations, we do as much injustice to ourselves as we do to the sufferers of it when we refuse to care or engage.

Her eyes told me she had seen much injustice; her hands showed me that she had fought it with ferocity, not because she was suffering its oppression, but because this was what “being human” meant to her.

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Is equality a prerequisite for peace? Are my standards too high, my thoughts too idealistic?

Eleanor Roosevelt


“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience by which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.”

“It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.”

In addition to her responsibilities as first lady, Mrs. Roosevelt was a humanitarian at heart and in practice. She was an American diplomat serving in the United Nations and helped write the Declaration of Human Rights. I am thankful for her heart for humanity and fearlessness to fight for her beliefs.

Pocket full of words….

Here’s a quote…I read it…and fell in love. Its now hanging in my bedroom. Let me know what you think…let me know what this inspires you to do. The world needs more inspired people.

“Have the guts to rewrite the rules, color outside society’s perfect lines, rebel against what’s comfortable, love in spite of heart break, dream outside of
sleeping, have faith in humanity even when it gives you reason to not,
fight against injustice, create instead of consume, be brave, be kind,
…maintain unwavering humility and dance until your dripping with sweat
from the beat of your own passion.”

May we all die sweaty.