NO GOOD GROUND

There’s been a lot of chatter on my FB feed about Kendrick Lamar‘s performance at the NCAA National Football Championship game. What is fairly clear is the preponderant negative responses (not all) were coming from white people. If I’m not mistaken, I saw a teeming crowd of black, Hispanic and white faces who were totally enthralled.

I remember Chris Rock hosting the Academy Awards and showing people how blacks viewed the Academy Awards on the street. He went to a black theater in downtown L.A. and asked a series of questions. By their answers it was quite evident there was a cultural gap. Let me be clear, I’m not saying one culture is better than the other. I am saying that the two cultures may view some things in very disparate ways. Not every way….but in some. I do not listen to a lot of rap or hip-hop music, I’m pretty un-hip and chronically white. I didn’t have anything to do with that,…God did. I live in a predominately white world. That is fact.

I have come to the place in my life where some music I hear is not in the context of getting it…but rather experiencing it. As I listen to the music of Stockhausen, Schoenberg, Cage and atonal music, I was always somewhat off balance because I could not analyze it in real time because there were no tonal centers to which I could refer. Finally I sat back and simply experienced the work. I didn’t have to get it, I could just take it in. Now it was more beautiful to me, more visceral. In the same manner, it is essential for me to understand that these precious brothers and sisters are communicating in and to a culture I may or may not understand. For that matter, music related to a culture of which I am ignorant.

Why is this important? It is important because people matter. When I look in someone’s face, I want to see what God sees…a reflection of Himself.

We all live in our own little harbor, not always remembering that we are actually in an ocean of ideas and people coming from different perspectives. We may not see things the way others see them. That does not diminish who they are or what they do. When we appreciate people…our lives are enhanced. When we don’t look for the best in people…our lives are diminished.

All of this certainly does not mean there isn’t music that is poorly done in every type of music that exists… there’s plenty of that too. The problem we face in our country is our readiness to bring our opinions without seeking to understand that which is uncommon to us.

“He who only knows the side of his case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good and no one may be able to refute them, but if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no good ground for preferring either opinion.”

(John Stuart Mill)

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