It’s been an intense week from an emotional perspective.
We woke up on Monday morning to hear horrid news out of Las Vegas – a shooter, hiding like a coward in a hotel room, opened fire on a crowd attending a Country Music Festival on “The Strip”. Responses were immediate and intense.
For me, there are three moments in my week that are indelibly burned into my brain.
A Facebook friends posted early in the day on Monday a statement that showed just how angry he was. He basically said that you had no soul if the incident on Sunday night didn’t immediately turn you into an activist for stricter gun laws. I understand his anger and frustration. But not everyone reacts to issues like this in the exact same way.
I found a video that shared the faces of those killed on Sunday night. It’s the only video related to the incident that I’ve watched. As the pictures scrolled by, all I could think about was how different they were. Men and women of different ages and different backgrounds and it’s probably safe to say that they didn’t all think alike about everything and may have even had differing views on things like sports, religion, politics, favorite movies, and so on. But none of that mattered that night. They had a shared love for a particular music genre and that brought them all together for this particular music festival. It doesn’t surprise me. I’ve frequently seen music wipe away the barriers we build to divide ourselves into groups.
Then there was Eric Church’s performance at the Grand Ol’ Opry. He had been the headliner on Friday night at the same festival that was attacked on Sunday. I’ll let him tell his own story in the video below but one thing he said struck me only because I can relate – “The only way I’ve ever fixed anything in me is with music.” The friend I mentioned earlier? He responded in the way that instinctively felt right – he committed himself to activism. For me, my response is much more about talking the issue through with the teens I’m around every day or using music to help process the empathy I feel for those who had a loved one violently taken.
Whatever your response has been to this situation, embrace it. Act on it. To force any other reaction is pointless.
The story goes that Leonard Bernstein was in his office, studying a score and preparing for his rehearsal that night with the New York Philharmonic when he got word that President Kennedy had been killed. He chose to have rehearsal anyway and told his musicians “This will be our reply to violence. To make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”
It’s only been a couple of days since a single shooter, for reasons that are not yet clear, opened fire on a concert taking place on the Las Vegas strip. 59 people were killed, hundreds wounded. He was using an automatic or semi-automatic weapon and firing from the window of a nearby hotel. Of course, gun control has become a discussion again – as it should – and there is some disagreement over exactly which floor he was on, how many weapons he had in the room with him, and no one has offered a hint as to what drove him to commit such an ugly act. He had no prior criminal record and law enforcement officials have not been able to solidly connect him to any radical, extremist groups. So we’re baffled, questioning, maybe even arguing a bit, but we are all hurting for those affected by this horrible night.
I saw a video today of the 59 who lost their lives. I was struck by one thing – the diversity; different genders, ages, ethnicities . . . you get the idea. They weren’t all one “type” of person. But they had come together to share an experience – a concert. They were together to enjoy music. As a lifelong musician, that touches me.
I have a friend who is a choral director at University of Nevada Las Vegas and he has reached out, asking for recordings of choirs – all ages, locations, school groups, church groups, community groups, whatever! – to record themselves singing something you are working on right now, and sending it to him (if you are interested in taking part, leave your email in the comments and I’ll get you some info!). His desire is to share these recordings with his choir students. Imagine the impact of seeing total strangers you may never meet, but with whom you share one thing – you sing. It doesn’t seem like much. But the healing that music can bring about is very real and very powerful. I can speak from experience.