I teach music to young children ages 5 to about 11 or 12. The children come to my classroom and the youngest classes sit in a circle on the floor and we get started on the day’s activities. The children know that we need a circle that includes every child and if the circle is too small I sing a song I made up which is “if everybody moves back just a little bit, there’s going to be enough place for everyone to sit.”

Yesterday, a child arrived late, and class was already in progress, so she lurked on the fringe of the circle and no-one made room for her. I switched to the above mentioned ditty and the children “scootched” back a bit and there were several gaps that the latecomer could have easily sat in, but an argument erupted between the latecomer and another child who was in the exact geographic location that the latecomer wanted. To my eyes, an arbitrary spot on the floor, but to these two, a fundamental right was being trampled on. My intervention was to point out that; virtually no one spot had an advantage over another, and that a solution was needed so we could continue making music. I said to both of them that if they really wanted to sing, one of them would have to shift their rigidity. The sitting child could cede his place, or the standing child could opt to sit elsewhere. I try not to “decide for them” in cases like this. I let them figure it out for themselves with a bit of guidance. The standing child chose an empty spot and we continued the class. We are all equal, and everyone matters. Simple, right? We made music.

Then on the way home I heard about the awful massacre of Palestinian protesters by the IDF. There was much analysis and people from both sides having their say and virtually the only “common ground” was the ground they both wanted. The highly educated people discussing the situation from either side had legitimate points and both seemed logical and reasonable. The need for a Jewish homeland is important. Especially after the holocaust brought on by the Nazis. The need for Palestinians to have a home is important as well. The British kind of dropped the ball on the Palestinians when Israel was formed after the second world war. (1949). 
They both want the same space and they both desire peace, but there are fanatics on both sides that keep this from happening. The problem is that each side has chosen to not co-exist and believes that they are fundamentally more important than the other. This is not news. I was brought up on the Christian bible, and the stories of wars and slavery and inequity have been going on for ages. I am not being frivolous here, but what don’t these religions get? “Thou shalt not kill” pretty clear commandment from Allah, Yahweh, G*d, God….. 
If you want to make music, you have to learn to get along. There is enough room for everyone, and no-one has to hate. There is no holiness in hatred.

(from May 2016)

One thought on “Getting Along

  1. Beautifully written as always in your retirement I think you and Ross should sit down and write a book together I’m sure it would be a bestseller your years of teaching both of you would be insightful I wish you a wonderful day .


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