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Friday, June 14, 2013
THE UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE - by Steve Banko
I went to a rather unusual movie recently.
It was unusual because there was no sex or violence or anything we
good Catholics would even have to confess, except for the
occasional swear word. The movie was called "Once" and it is
little known, but critically acclaimed.
In essence, the story is about two complete strangers, one Irish
and one Czech, who meet on a Dublin street and forge a bond because
of their mutual love of and commitment to music.
Throughout the movie, an odd mix of characters come together, bond
and blend their talents through the universal language of music. It
was one of those movies that makes you feel strangely good about
having seen it.
In thinking about the movie, I was taken by the extraordinary gift
that is music. Even when language separates, music unites. The
hero plays a beat-up old guitar and sings sad dirges of love lost.
The heroine plays Mendelssohn on the piano with gifted fingers.
They recognize the beauty in each other's song and they blend their
talents to make the song even richer.
And somewhere along the way, it made me thing that religion is
supposed to do the same thing.
The moral core that is our essence is also the essence of most
religions throughout the world. Our understanding of a just and
loving God transcends the depth of our human understanding and
calls us to unite in our love for one another. That call is not
the singular call of Christianity. Virtually every religion in the
world is based on that single premise that our earthly world is
made more perfect through our love and caring and commitment to
Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Muslims all
believe in the inherent goodness of man and search for a way to a
more perfect life of peace and harmony. They all strain for peace
and for the fellowship of human kind.
So why can't religion act as a unifier instead of a divider in our
world ? If music can provide musicians with a universal language of
beauty and harmony, why can't our belief in peace, our commitment
to lead ethical and moral lives and our dedication to the love of
humanity serve the same function ? Why does religion, instead,
serve to divide the people of our country and of the world ?
Why do people kill in the name of their God ?
Beliefs may, and do, vary. Buddhists seek nirvana. Hindus seek
the ways of action and of wisdom. Christians are commanded to love
one another. Our Jewish brothers and sisters embrace not just a
religion, but a way of life to guide them on a moral path. Muslims
are also seeking eternal reward through peace and ethical life.
But repeatedly throughout history, these major religions of the world
have been used as tools to turn people against one another. Jews
and Arabs kill each other over a patch of desert. Muslims kill
Muslims in Iraq because of slight differences in religious belief.
Christians and Catholics have killed each other for centuries in
Northern Ireland. Hindus and Sikhs kill each other on the Indian
sub-continent. This prostitution of religious belief to feed war
and death and destruction is a sad and heinous perversion of what
we are called to be.
Strange, isn't it, that we never see blues musicians at war with
classical musicians ? Rock and roll artists never fight with jazz
Music is a universe unto itself. Music is what religion is
supposed to be.