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WHERE WORDS LEAVE OFF, MUSIC BEGINS, BEIRUT AND PARIS

musicThat quote is attributed to Christian Johann Heinrich Heine, a German poet/expatriate who lived in Paris.[i]

Heine’s observation was never more evident than in the minority responses trending on social media following the November 12-13, 2015 murders in Beirut and Paris. Beyond the vitriol, outrage and promise of retribution, there is a chorus in the background.

French soccer fans who went to Stade de France on Friday to watch their team’s friendly against Germany, were detained by police for hours following explosions that created a stampede.   They were locked inside the stadium for security reasons in the aftermath. As they were evacuated they slowly embraced their shock and horror with a shaky rendition of La Marseillaise (the French national anthem). I posted that video to join the chorus.[ii]

On Saturday, German national Davide Martello towed a piano with his bike to Paris’s Bataclan Theatre, the site of a simultaneous attack where many died and many more were injured.  Martello then sat down to play the World’s Anthem for Peace and Brotherhood: John Lennon’s Imagine. I appreciate his dedication.[iii]

On Sunday, I recalled a different place and time when the United States led citizens around the world in a pledge of solidarity for the region so often beset by crisis.  The bombing in Beirut killed 43 people.  We Are the World, USA for Africa (1985), was a charitable event conceived by activist Harry Belafonte.  The hit song (written by Michael Jackson & Lionel Richie, produced by Quincy Jones) was created at a historic event that brought the most famous artists in the music industry together into one studio.  It topped music charts throughout the world and became the fastest-selling American pop single in history. The first ever single to be certified multi-platinum, it won three Grammy Awards, one American Music Award, and a People’s Choice Award—while raising over $63 million for humanitarian aid.  I posted that video to join the chorus.

As I continue to contemplate the words of UK’s Home Secretary, Theresa May, advising citizens to be “alert, but not alarmed” in the wake of the attacks, I wondered if there was a song that perfectly expressed my own reaction.

There is. To the mothers who learned Saturday morning that a child of theirs was lost to them forever, to the fathers and families of those who lost their lives in Beirut and in Paris on November 13, 2015, to officials who are dismayed that it happened on their watch, and to those who are acting and reacting and plotting and planning without any semblance of rhyme or reason: I send love.  Wherever you are, however you feel, I know that in the words of Michael Jackson, you are part of me.

I invite you to join the chorus for PEACE, LOVE AND UNITY.

Robin

Endnotes:

[i] Heine was born December 13, 1797 in Düsseldorf, Germany. He was one of the most significant poets of the 19th century. He was also a journalist, essayist, and literary critic, best known outside Germany for his early lyric poetry, which was set to music in the form of Lieder (art songs) by composers such as Robert Schumann and Franz Schubert. Heine’s later verse and prose is distinguished by its satirical wit and irony. His radical political views led to many of his works being banned by German authorities. Heine spent the last 25 years of his life as an expatriate in Paris.

[ii] http://www.professorbarnes.com/celebrityprivacy/?p=546

[iii] Man tows piano by bike to Bataclan Theatre in Paris and plays John Lennon’s Imagine http://road.cc/content/news/171241-man-tows-piano-bike-bataclan-theatre-paris-and-plays-john-lennons-imagine

 

 

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