December 22, 2015 – Faces of 2015

On Saturday night, I was fortunate enough to hear a live performance of the world-renowned Israeli performer, David Broza who is truly one of the most extraordinary acoustic guitar players and singer songwriters I have ever heard.  David was born in Haifa in the north of Israel but moved to Spain with his family when he was 12 years old.  He then returned to Israel where he began his career as a musician around the age of 22 and then returned to Spain a number of years later where he toured extensively.

While playing guitar with a mixture of Spanish and Middle Eastern influence, David sings lyrics in Spanish, English and Hebrew which, in many cases, are based on the writings of well known poets and are often motivated by topical political events in the Middle East.  In 2014, David recorded an album entitled “East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem” which was recorded in East Jerusalem with a joint producing team of both Palestinians and Israelis.  David also produced a documentary about the making of the album which shows the ongoing glimmer of hope that there is a way that both Israelis and Palestinians can co-exist together if they can find some entry points of commonality.

The opening two verses of the lyrics of the title song “East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem” are:

Same face in the Gaza
Is the same face I see out in California
Same face in Jericho
Is the same face I see down in Mexico
Same face in Tel Aviv
Is the same face I see out in New Jersey

So many places
All share the same faces
East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem
Shalom, Salam
East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem
Shalom, Salam

These lyrics were my inspiration for today’s post.  Over the course of the last 12 months, I have been fortunate enough to travel to a number of interesting locations both within the United States and overseas.  My travels have taken me as close as to downtown Los Angeles and the streets of New York, and to distant locations such as Istanbul and Cappadocia in Turkey, and Barcelona and San Sebastian in Spain.  I have walked the streets of Sydney and Melbourne in Australia and marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the 50th Anniversary of the Selma March in Alabama.  I listened to three days of music in Golden Gate Park with over 100,000 people who came from all walks of life and from countries all over the world.

When you look at the faces on the video link in today’s post listed below, the words written by David Broza could not be truer.  At the end of the day, the people in these photos may live in different cities or different countries. They may have different religious and moral beliefs and may wear different clothes and have different customs. But at the end of the day each of these people have so much in common.  When a parent loses a child they mourn for the loss.  When they are injured by weapons of destruction they bleed and sadly, sometimes die.  And for many of them, they have a strong sense of family values and if they are lucky enough to live a full life, they too will eventually die and hopefully leave some kind of legacy for their family that survive them.

So often we focus on the differences between people whose values and beliefs are different than our own instead of focusing on what we have in common.  In every sector of society there are both good and bad people.  In every religion and society there are people who have extremist beliefs and ideologies, but in each of these societies, there remain large groups of people who continue to believe that peace and co-existence is still a possibility and not merely a dream.

Perhaps in the coming 12 months, we can all focus on the positive in our lives and not the negative.  Perhaps we can look to try and find the goodness in people and not merely the badness.  Perhaps in the words of David Broza we can look into the eyes of other people around us and see elements of ourselves and perhaps this will be a step forward in the right direction.

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.