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Musicians on strike. That’s what we are reading in the newspapers in Detroit Michigan these days. Musicians refuse to play music, refuse to perform. But the truth is the musicians of the world class Detroit Symphony Orchestra are not refusing to play. Since the strike against management began several weeks ago, the musicians have organized and offered several performances across the area for classical music patrons that have been deprived of their passion. These events have included free concerts for worthy causes and televised events for fans at home. This dispute has become an embarrassment to the management and has spiraled into a mudslinging public argument that is becoming reminiscent of the political exchanges of the 2010 mid term election cycle. It is ugly, dishonest and senseless.
The more I contemplate this situation, the more absurd it becomes. The notion that a musician can go on strike attacks the true nature of what a musician actually is. Is it not true that an artist / musician is driven not by monetary reward, but rather by the necessity to create? Is it not true that an artist / musician must practice their calling regardless of physical circumstance? Is it not true that there are countless talented musicians on virtually every street that are receiving no monetary reward at all for their work?
The answer to all of those questions is … a musician cannot strike, unless they strike at their own hearts. A musician cannot stop what they do any more than a mother can stop loving a child. Therefore it is clear that these fine musicians, although suffering greatly due to lack of funds at the moment, have created alternative outlets to play music for their audience.
Those who are in opposition to the musicians are not artists, but rather, business executives whose job it is to keep expenses down and profits up. They have made several attempts to bring in artists to perform concerts in place of the orchestra but when the artist became fully aware of the reality, they kindly declined and came into solidarity.
This is encouraging on many levels. It is important and vital that we support one another as artists. Far too often we hear stories of rivalries, jealousies, and pettiness between contemporaries in the music world. We see the same lack of respect, the same fears, the same pride driven deceit as we do in any other field of human endeavor.
The tragedy here is that this activity wastes great amounts of energy and robs the artist of the strength and the time that could have been devoted to creation. It divides a small group of human beings into even smaller groups therefore making them even more invisible and vulnerable. Perhaps worst of all, it makes it impossible for communication between some of the most brilliant minds alive at any given time in history.
So let us make a promise to each other that in good times and bad, during times of prosperity and poverty, joy and heartbreak, that we will stop, listen & support each others work. That we will look for the goodness in our fellow artist’s attempts to change the world. And that we will welcome each other into our own world of thought word and deed with respect and charity so that in unity we will stand together to make the same changes in the world at large while we triumphantly hold up the greatest act of creation … loving one another unconditionally.
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