I like music. Music is what keeps me going so hard after what I feel is so just. Since I was a child I have turned to music for inspiration.
My first tape was Pink Floyd’s, “The Wall.” I was six years old. Thankfully, I have a brother who is ten years older than me so he could pass down the cool offerings of the day.
In the 1980s it was Floyd, The Boss, The Talking Heads, R.E.M., Widespread Panic, Phish, Bon Jovi, Poison, etc.
In the 1990s I found my own voice when Eddie Vedder, Kurt Cobain and Chris Cornell came kicking through my speakers and slapping me in the face.
It was at this point, when I was 12 – 15 years old that I began to listen to what these musicians were telling me. I remember listening to Pearl Jam’s “Ten” record and asking myself and my parents questions like, “why do women get abused” (“Why Go”), “why are some people homeless” (“Even Flow”), or “why is Eddie Vedder writing ‘pro-choice’ on his arm” (MTV’s Unplugged). My musical heroes began teaching me things. More importantly, they lit a fire inside of me to find the truth.
In 7th grade, the music coming out of my speakers led me to “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” For a suburban kid in a suburban school, this seemed a bit odd to those around me. The words in the book led me to new places.
Around the same time, my English Teacher told me I should watch “Do the Right Thing.” This led me to “Boyz in the Hood.”
I soon realized that there was a world outside of my neighborhood.
The films – the books – and most of all, the music – led me all over the country, all over the spectral plane and all over my own brain. I toured around with Phish and saw sights I had never dreamed of. I spoke to people from all walks of life. I learned from people in every state in the country.
I went to punk rock shows – hip hop shows – metal shows – folk rock shows – blue grass shows – festivals – and more. I soon realized that I was not seeing anyone’s color, sexual preference or gender. I realized I was only seeing that we were all enjoying life.
It was this attitude I took to Over-the-Rhine with me in 2001 when I first began working for those who the world had forgotten. I did not know it then, but all of those concerts were teaching me what real community was – and IS. We all enjoy and want the same things – a happy life with opportunities to be better than where we started.
I saw this when I took 35 students of every racial and economic demographic to Puerto Rico last year for Purcell Marian. It was not a “mission trip” by any means – it was a fun beach trip! However, I saw more organic relationship building there than I have in many missions of which I have been a part. The kids don’t need to be told to build relationships, they just do. As The Who tells us, the kids are, in fact, alright.
I know that Unity Assists works. This is not my theory, it is my guiding principal because it has never let me down.