Today’s post has a “bloggers for peace” theme.
- Tell a story about when you were a child and you found/experienced/learned peace. What are your first memories of peace? What images, music, events, people introduced you to peace?
As always, I think “how can I relate this theme to walking?” Well, this post includes music that influenced me as a child to find/experience/learn peace. I still have these songs on a playlist because they are some of my favorites in all the world. When I walk and listen to this music, I’m reminded of the turmoil the world was in during that time. As a young person in the 60’s and 70’s, it seemed as though everyone was fighting, and arguing and protesting to make the world a better place. Some of the music that emerged was calming and hopeful – a futuristic dream to escape to. Sadly, after 50 years, we are still “warring” and the music still serves and seeks the same purpose.
My earliest memories of peace have to do with music and singing. In 1967, I was in 3rd grade. The antiquated Catholic school building I attended had wooden desks bolted to a creaky wood floor and steam heat that was always belching too warm. On Mondays and Fridays we had Music for an hour before lunch. It was my favorite time of day – next to gym. At 10:00, a music teacher would come into the classroom, rolling an upright piano and our nun would leave for a break. At the time, the catholic church was trying to become more “hip and with it”. They were teaching us new songs, songs they would feature at the youth oriented “guitar” masses. The song I still sing to this day is one we rehearsed over and over in that class. “Let there be peace on Earth.” As the music teacher plunked out the chords on the piano, we sang dramatically – taking all the words to heart. I always thought it was a nice church song. I still do.
Some years later in middle school (or 6th grade as we called it back then), John Lennon and Yoko Ono were making a statement. It was 1969, and a lot was happening in the United States. People were fighting and arguing about everything in the state of the world. “Give Peace a Chance” came out during a “bed-in for peace” and it was the coolest thing anybody could do to make a point. Nixon was president, there were Stonewall riots, civil rights marches were taking place in our backyards, woodstock got ugly, nuclear proliferation talks scared the hell out of everyone, Nixon was trying vietnamization on (no one even knew what that was!), and we placed a man on the moon. My friends and I escaped all this by belting out the song lyrics anytime we were together, on a bus or walking home. We doodled the lyrics on our notebooks and papers. We desperately wanted peace and we didn’t always even know why.
During my 8th grade year, the watergate scandal was beginning, we were horrified by the Olympics and terrorism, Governor Wallace was shot in front of our eyes, and Nixon was bombing Viet Nam on Christmas, (on Christmas!). John came back with another song, still singing and dreaming about “living life in peace”, “Imagine” soothed the ugly. My friends and I were touched by the words as we dreamed of a brotherhood of man. I still think this is one of the most beautiful songs on the planet today.
What I remember most from my high school years 1972-1976, was the war finally ending, Nixon getting impeached, two assassination attempts on President Ford, the bicentennial, and the Coke commercial – “I’d like to teach the world to sing”. Here was another song my friends and I harmonized to on long bus rides home from volleyball games. We were the commercial! It wasn’t so much about drinking Coke as it was the idea of teaching the world to sing together. We saw ourselves portrayed as the next generation -peaceful, tolerant, together – trying to make the world stop fighting.
In 1977 President Carter pardons the draft evaders, Roots debuts on television, Elvis Presley dies and David Bowie and Bing Crosby team up for a peace themed Christmas carol. I was in college. We couldn’t believe David Bowie would be on a Christmas special during prime time. How did he get from “midnight special” to Bing Crosby? Easy – their message of peace. This would be a song I would want to pass on to the children of today. “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth.” Pretty thing – yeah.
This was some of the music that shaped me as a child into a peace loving adult.
As a former teacher, I would have to argue to the death for the importance of including music education in school curriculums.
Music can teach peace, music can be peaceful and music provides hope for peace, transcending time and maybe even someday – space.