Saying "Goodbye" is difficult for most of us. During the past few weeks, I have been forced to say goodbye to some of the things I have taken for granted. On Friday, June 10, Christina Grimme was murdered after a concert at an Orlando performance venue where I have viewed performances. Although I had not been following Christina's career, I had a gut-wrenching feeling when I learned about her death, and I mentally scratched the venue of her performance off of the list of places where I will attend future concerts. Just over one week later, a night club in Orlando became the location for the worst mass murder incident in the history of the United States. (Wait, Orlando, Florida?) Yes, the city I often visit for work and leisure now holds a dreaded record for the most prolific murder scene in our nation. As a result of these and many similar events, I am forced to recalculate my assumptions of safety when visiting Orlando.
I am aware of the need this world has to stand strong in the face of terrorism. I know the residents of Orlando, San Bernadino, Boston, New York, and all of the cities of our nation that have been attacked by hatred are doing their best to unite and go about their business with courage and conviction. But even as we resolve to do our best in these situations, we have been forced to say goodbye to the comfortable feelings of personal safety which were once the expected norms in our communities.
One could argue that personal safety is always relative. In some places in our world today, a trip to buy bread for your children is a life threatening event. My uncle was shot to death by a gang who robbed his pet store, and my daughter was mugged at gunpoint in broad daylight in an Orlando parking lot. Stating the obvious is not going to remove the danger faced by millions of people around the world today. Surely we must consider the places we go and try to be aware of our surroundings when out in the world, but is there anything we can do personally to counter the trends of violence and hatred that surround us?
A verse I learned when studying the Bible comes to mind. As Paul is writing to the church in Philippi, he exhorts this group, even when exposed to anxious situations, to consider "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think of these things." (Philippians 4:8) These words certainly cannot contradict terrible events that have come to pass, but they might alter events in the future if enough of us put into practice the search for the "good and noble" of this world.
Music teachers are in a position to point students to the "good" things of life that surround us. "Good" is secular as well as religious. Many of the songs and activities that we share with our students celebrate good things in our world. By presenting what is "good", we help to build a community that can bond in common positive values. As you share the joy of making music with your students, keep in your mind that the evil forced upon us by the few might be contained to some extent by a knowledge of "good" that you share. When "truth, nobility, honesty, purity, love, excellence, and things that are worthy of praise" are in the mind, perhaps we can say "Goodbye" to some of the evil that threatens this world.
That's "Brad's Beat" for July, 2016. I hope you have a great 4th of July! It would be appropriate to break out the Boomwhackers and make a "good" big noise as you celebrate with younger students! If you have any needs for instruments or support materials, don't hesitate to call on us at RBI. We share your passion for helping the children of the world learn to express themselves through their experiences with music!