If you pay attention to only certain parts of the culture, it wouldn’t be hard to get the impression that the entire world is going straight to hell. I’ve decided that the real problem, exacerbated by our relatively recent ability to electronically monitor things around the clock, is that we’re focused on “bad,” as if this was the only thing going on. This isn’t to imply that the world doesn’t have real problems, but more that things like crime, misbehaving world leaders, and clown car politics don’t come close to painting the whole picture.
This realization has been slowly forming in my foggy head for quite a while now, but a couple of things this past week sharpened my attention. The first was an incredibly inspiring interview with Malala Yousafzai on the Daily Show. This is the young lady who, because she spoke out for education for girls in Pakistan, was shot in the head by the Taliban. As if her survival alone isn’t inspiring enough, her attitude and desire to change the world is…I don’t know…I watched this interview and just like Mr. Stewart, I was struck dumb. I was amazed by her poise, wisdom, and complete lack of anger or bitterness. As a commenter pointed out, she’s more articulate in English than most of our members of Congress.
Next up was an audio interview with cellist and composer Erik Friedlander. Having recently lost his wife to breast cancer, Friedlander set his grief and hope to music in the form of the brilliant Claws & Wings. Interviewer Arun Rath noted that the closing track “Cheek to Cheek” had shifted to album’s tone toward serenity, plus “…there’s definitely beauty there, but it doesn’t resolve.” In his review, our own S. Victor Aaron noted that Friedlander was “looking forward to brighter days ahead.” It’s amazing how music can communicate these thoughts. Friedlander’s comment on the song:
“Cheek to Cheek” is something my wife would do with my daughter. She’d put her cheek next to my daughter’s cheek and say, together, together, together, kind of like an incantation. And it was something she did often. You know, I think of these kind of happy moments and, yeah, I definitely felt that track was optimistic, was a feeling of moving forward. With some pain, yeah, but moving forward still.
Obviously, these are just two small anecdotes. But still, if Yousafzai and Friedlander can rise above their circumstances and produce such profound beauty…I don’t know…they have struck me dumb.