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Living musically in a discontent world

Posted: November 18, 2013 2:06 p.m.
Updated: November 18, 2013 2:06 p.m.

It is becoming more evident everyday. Our society is fracturing into little cliques of discontent. We are becoming a factious people. Cynicism might be nominated as our national hobby, and the criticism it breeds has turned us into a passionate yet mediocre debating society.

We are ready to argue and divide over almost everything. It is my tribe against yours, and our “win at all costs” attitude more often than not outweighs both the validity of our own arguments and seriousness of the topic. I think

we are becoming addicted to controversy and corruption. We say we’re shocked by it, but we love it because apart from what is wrong, what is tragic, what is shocking, we might not have anything to discuss.

Okay, I’ll take a deep breath and settle down, but you get the point.

I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Kathleen Sebelius, our Secretary of Health and Human Services as she sat, quite composed and civil, before a snarling group of House Representatives. Regardless of her culpability in the matter before the committee, they deported themselves badly. The sarcasm, cynicism, and mean-spirited criticism were certainly not helpful. They repeatedly interrupted her in mid-sentence, and treated her contemptuously, without regard for her years of public service. It was deplorable, and even more so to me because they were representing an overall viewpoint I espouse. While their views may have represented mine, their demeanor certainly did not.

Hold on for a swift change of subjects. I graduated college with a degree in music. It has always been a love of mine, but it also can be a wonderful instructor in the basics of life. For music to engage the soul with lasting effect several disparate things have to come together in unity. Harmony demands diversity. While unison may carry certain pleasing elements, it is the careful wrapping of other notes around the melody that gives it breadth and increased effect. Add to that an effective rhythm, some closely woven dynamics in pace and volume, and pretty soon you have a remarkable experience. And then parcel it out to different instruments and voices, and you’re ready to rent the auditorium and sell tickets.

From music we learn that diversity works for us. Yes, the diverse notes must come together in the right way, at the right angle, and for the right duration. And, yes again, this isn’t easy. But for those who take the time to turn diversity into harmony the effect is powerful and life-giving.

Here’s a challenge. How about you and I make a commitment to live musically this season from Thanksgiving to Christmas? Let’s stop picking fights that really won’t accomplish anything. Let’s find some grand and noble things to talk about with our friends and family. Let’s push back against the love for cynicism that is fast wrapping itself around our collective souls. After all, isn’t smiling and laughing much more fun than snarling? And aren’t discussions about the beauty God has brought into our lives much more rewarding than arguments over things we can’t control anyway?

While we may be on different sides of the isues, I’ll bet Kathleen Sebelius and I agree on one thing that is very important to America. We’ll never get better tearing each other apart. E pluribus unum …”out of the many, one.” Remember that from 4th grade? Let’s discover it again.

David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. “Ethically Speaking” runs Sundays in The Signal.


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