July 14, 2005
Vol. V, No. 15
"It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"
With the events of the past week, I found myself thinking about what Mel Gibson shouts in the movie "Braveheart." Not remembering it exactly, I looked it up on the Web and found it at the site below along with many other quotes from the movie, some hilarious:
William Wallace: Aye, fight and you may die, run, and you'll live... at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade all of that from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take away our lives, but they'll never take our freeeedoooomm.
If this was a typical Rampage, at this point I might suggest that we take refuge in the music of JS Bach and be grateful for an island of sanity in a world gone increasingly mad. However nice that suggestion might sound, this is not a typical Rampage and that is not my message today.
I've complained before about world events encroaching on my thoughts but with each passing day I feel more and more like a modern-day Nero, fiddling while Rome burns. When I sit at the console, playing seems frivolous and disconnected from reality.
There's been a lot of talk from our leaders about increasing security measures in order to preserve our freedom. I believe what they are really trying to do is preserve our safety which is absurd even in the best of times. There are no guarantees in life and this attempt to increase our safety actually comes at great expense to our freedom.
Here in New York, the reaction of business and government to terror has been almost as extreme as the attacks themselves. The raised security awareness has given an excuse to every petty security administrator-bully-control freak to make life increasingly intolerable for the rest of us. Every square inch of sidewalk is now a target of terror regardless of how inconsequential. Fear and paranoia rule the day and every backpack-wearing citizen is a potential threat.
Forget about bag searches, am I the only one who is having trouble adjusting to the presence of machine guns? What about when two Army tanks rolled through midtown earlier this summer. Who's terrorizing whom?
Not everyone wants to live in a climate of fear or support it or even acknowledge it but unfortunately it's not up for debate even though we are supposed to live in a democracy. I'm not talking about bravery. I'm talking about the desire to maintain one's dignity. Now there's a word that's disappearing from everyday vocabulary.
That's the problem with education going down the tubes. You don't just lose music appreciation, you start to lose words. And when you start to lose words, you start to lose ideas.
There are Christians in America, some of my own relatives, who believe that the only book they ever need to read is the Bible. That's fine but for some people that's just not enough, especially if, when you read it, you only hear what you want to hear.
For sure, there's enough in the Good Book for it to be used as a user manual for life but sometimes you might have to really think about it for a while. For instance, I think it's not just interesting but important to note that regardless of whether Jesus advocated the use of a sword for self-defense purposes (Luke 22:36-38), he never actually picked up a sword, even against his enemies, even in self-defense.
I've always tried to stick to Bach and the organ in these pages and avoid the subjects of religion and politics. But it's getting very hard to write about music in an insular way and avoid mentioning "the elephant in the room." How do I go about my business and ignore the fact that the number of dead Americans in Iraq will soon equal the number of people killed on 9/11. When that number is surpassed, will it still have been worth it? Not to mention that Iraq had nothing to with 9/11 anyway.
How can I simply go about my business knowing that, as I write this, members of the BACHorgan.com community are reprioritizing their lives not just in reaction to the war in Iraq but in response to events right here in our own country. Bach, for one, was someone who understood that artistic freedom wasn't possible without true freedom as an individual, as he was willing to spend time in jail over an employment contract dispute.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son..." is a well-known verse. I'd like to propose the following variation: "For WE so loved the world that we STOPPED giving our only begotten sons and daughters to a cause that's been foisted upon us by our so-called leaders." Then maybe I can get back to writing about the Bach, and nothing but the Bach, with a clear head.
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