mixology

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
Mahatma Ghandi

Gandhi in London 1906

Gandhi in London 1906

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My Italian Jew husband is in England hanging out with Muslims. He’s also working at the British Museum library researching music from the Holocaust for Francesco Lotoro. I’ve mentioned before the Creativity in Captivity project we’ve been working on for the last few years.

http://www.creativityincaptivity.org

One concert we hope to produce in the not too distant future is one in which the first half is music from the captive American slaves and its evolution into gospel, blues and jazz and the second half is some of the jazz pieces from Lotoro’s collection of music from the concentration and internment camps of World War Two. The music of one group of captive people went out all over the world speaking to people from everywhere and became the medium for another group of captives. A supporter of doing that concert, and the whole Creativity in Captivity project, is the incomparable Congressman John Lewis, the man whose skull was bashed on that bridge in Alabama as he marched with Martin Luther King Jr, the man who spoke on the mall during King’s March on Washington, the man who has struggled his whole life to fulfill Martin King’s vision – and his own.

I watched this documentary last night about Bobby Kennedy and the speech he gave to a mostly black crowd in an Indianapolis hood the night Martin Luther King Jr was murdered. He spoke for few minutes of empathy, about how he had lost a member of his family to murder and could understand the desire for revenge, and hatred. Then he quoted Aeschylus

He who learns must suffer
And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart,
And in our own, against our will,
Comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.

I just wept through the whole thing, which had a lot of John Lewis talking about MLK and Bobby Kennedy. In the footage from that night, Bobby kept talking about black people and white people and the choice we had to work it out – or not. And because the people he was talking with, some of whom had come with knives and chains and gasoline to start a riot, knew he was speaking as Martin would have spoken, and because it was the truth, when he asked them to forbear and go home instead of indulging in hate, they did.

One of the difficulties in working with Mythic Imagination is that we are working with sacred stories from all cultures. People are naturally touchy about that, so we do everything we can to be respectful. But as Salman Rushdie recently said, identity politics has turned to hatred. For many people that ‘identity’ is tied to their sacred stories. It’s always been the way, of course. The whole point of myths is to create group cohesion. But what is it about anyway, identity?

There is your own, and there is you as part of a group. I’ve always felt obliged to recognize how much this seems to mean to people, but in my heart, I wish we would grow up. The intensity of identity issues happens in and are connected to adolescence. I love teenagers and I love to watch them struggle to come true, to find themselves, to create an identity. But that is a carapace for an enormous Self, for a soul, for the essence of the person, who for the most part, is not an ‘identity’. So much of my life has been dedicated to honoring the roots and fruits of cultural identity. The myths, stories, arts and rituals of the myriad peoples are our human treasure. It is so tragic and stupid when that treasure becomes a focus for hatred. I understand that when someone disses your treasure you may hate them. But the treasure isn’t to have, it’s to spend.

http://www.salon.com/2013/08/15/salman_rushdie_we_live_in_a_culture_of_offendedness/

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/salman-rushdie-were-all-too-offended-now-8755930.html

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