A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Beauty in the Harmony

Posted on: June 26, 2015

On Wednesday night, I attended some concerts at the Ottawa Jazz Festival for the first time. My ticket included an After Dark Series performance by Freshlyground, whose members hail from South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Now, I’m not a night owl—I joke that I turn into a pumpkin by 11 p.m.—but I decided to check out the show just the same.

Like many of the concertgoers, I wasn’t familiar with the group’s music, but in the end it didn’t matter. Men and women from their late teens to their seventies and from many different backgrounds danced and sang along late into the evening. We all came together to enjoy the music.

Why can’t we find this harmony in everyday life?

I think about last week’s racially motivated shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and today’s shooting of tourists on a Tunisian beach and bombing of a Shiite mosque in Kuwait, and I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that someone could justify killing others because of differences in ethnicity, religion, class, gender, sexual orientation, and so on.

How can people believe that others are inferior and less deserving of life, freedom and opportunity? That it’s their job to “cleanse” society of those they consider undesirable and unworthy?

And how do we change this? How can we make even a small difference?

We can decide that an intolerant society is not what we want for ourselves or for our children. We can speak out against bias in news coverage, advertising, movies and books. We can refuse to listen to offensive jokes or comments and explain why we object. We can attend festivals to learn more about and appreciate other cultures. We can pray that we’ll all stop mentally dividing those we meet into us and them and instead see people as people with worries and hopes and aspirations like ours.

If intolerance and prejudice and hatred had their way, our society would be just a melody. May we have the courage to let ours be the voices that say, “Enough,” and to choose to love one another as children of God—whatever our differences. Then we’ll begin to see the beauty in the harmony.

A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.

~ St. Francis of Assisi, quoted in “Celebrate June 2015,” Catholic Digest, June / July / August 2015

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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