Don’t Worry ‘bout a Thing
I turned 67 a few weeks ago. I’m not sure why but I woke up today thinking about the passage of forty years. Forty years ago I was not a child or an adolescent. I was 27, a young man. Forty years! It seemed impossible yet there it was.
I had the fortune to see Bob Marley and the Wailers a few years before that, before he died. The world lost a great spirit. That concert is a blur now, but I know this: it was not a music show, it was a revival. It is rare that you see musicians so united in their vision and led by a man who had a level of charisma that is rare in a performer.
The crowd knew the lyrics to every song and sang along thunderously, then quieted when he sang an anthem like Redemption Song. It was one of the rare communal experiences where a crowd shared not only a musical moment but a spiritual one.
As a young musician I had been fortunate enough to know the experience of watching a rowdy club full of partying kids coalesce around a musical shared moment between the band and the crowd. We were not the Wailers, but we had glimpses of that world they lived in daily during those moments.
I’ve been writing regularly about the events in Ukraine, and I admit that it often becomes a bit too much to convert some shared sentiment, usually outrage that this war is bringing out in all of us. We could use more Bob Marleys to help us counter the evil of men like Vladimir Putin.
But as I’ve written and published these things I’ve been nagged by the knowledge that I was ignoring that this was only one of many conflicts around the planet. Darfur, Syria, Myanmar, the plight of the Uighurs in China…it goes on and on. Yet, a western war fought between people who live and look like us, stirs true outrage here. The problem is obvious and disconcerting.
It’s a form of racism and elitism. After all, there will always be wars and slaughters in Africa, we tell ourselves, there always have been and there always will be. And what about Palestine? It is complicated, we tell ourselves. But the comparison to Ukraine is viable. The use of violent war by one country to take another’s sovereign lands for their own use, denying the inhabitants of thousands of years of heritage.