The Taliban knows something all tyrants should know: if you want to suppress people, defeat their will to live, break their spirits, crush their souls, then take away their music.
In 1976 in Afghanistan, under Taliban rule, music was banned from the country—no love songs, no dancing songs, no radio or television musical broadcasts, no symphony, orchestra, or concerts. Instruments were confiscated and destroyed, some burned publicly. Conservatories were shuttered. Musical archives were trashed. Musicians were exiled, arrested, imprisoned, punished, tortured. It was proclaimed by the extremists that on judgment day, those who listened to music would have molten lead poured in their ears. By 1996 in Kabul, the suppression was so severe that; coupled with a 9 pm curfew, the city became, as one writer put it, “one of the world's most joyless places.” It was not until the American troops arrived in Afghanistan that the strains of music were to be heard again. The first musicians performed in bulletproof vests in buildings that had been scoured for bombs. After 30 years of suppression, the rebirth of music brought profound joy, hope, healing, life and laughter once again. For music is “the language of the soul.”
And it is the soul of New Orleans! Have we not learned that if you want to empower people, heal their broken spirits, and strengthen their souls, then give them music--a song to sing, an instrument to play, a means to express their deepest longings, hopes, and dreams? I will never forget that first Mardi Gras after Katrina--the Mardi Gras that much of the country said we had no right to have--seeing those high school bands marching up the Avenue, in spite of all the odds against them, wearing donated uniforms and, on donated instruments, playing their guts out. And I knew in my heart that there would be no new New Orleans without this music--the language of the soul of our city.
A writer, groping for words to describe the uniqueness of this city, once referred to New Orleans as “a population devoted to joy.” This has been confirmed by a recent scientific study, the first ever to quantify happiness, which ranked “Louisiana--home of Dixieland music and Creole cooking,” as the happiest state in America. Dixieland music: the language of the soul of “a population devoted to joy”! It will be at the heart of our worship on Sunday in one of the world’s most joyful places!
See You Sunday, Callie
3900 Saint Charles Avenue New Orleans, LA 70115 504-899-3431 firstname.lastname@example.org
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