Newsletter

Songs Without Borders

Posted by on Nov 4, 2019 in newsletter | 0 comments

“Las mariposas no tienen fronteras, ambos lugares son sus casas
The butterflies have no borders, both places are their homes”

 
Music helps us experience our common humanity. Singing together invites us to connect on a heart level beyond space and time, encouraging us to break down barriers that prevent us from loving and living fearlessly. In this time when it is so easy to react with hatred, anger, disgust, and contempt towards those with whom we disagree, when we are taught and conditioned to perceive those who are different than ourselves as inferior, how can we learn to take refuge in the sanctity of our interdependence with all people, and with all beings?
 
Sharing rhythms and melodies helps me to get there, if only for fleeting moments. Music helps me realize that our interconnectedness is not only possible, but necessary for our survival as a species. Our Mother Earth is calling on us to wake up. Our ancestors are lovingly inviting us to wake up. Can you hear them singing? They are asking us to come together in unity, to join our hearts, minds, and voices so that we may recognize our shared existence and act to protect the sacredness of all life, not only for ourselves but for future generations.
 
Let us come together and sing in unity beyond borders, in oneness and with joy, for all beings,
 
Joe

Only Love

Posted by on Aug 14, 2019 in newsletter | 0 comments

“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”
 
“Time is cluttered with the wreckage of communities that surrendered to hatred and violence. For the salvation of our nation and the salvation of [hu]mankind, we must follow another way. This does not mean we abandon our righteous efforts. With every ounce of energy we must continue to rid this nation of the incubus of segregation. But we shall not in the process relinquish our privilege and our obligation to love. While abhorring segregation, we shall love the segregationist. This is the only way to create the beloved community”

~Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love
 
How do I respond to the hatred and violence that continues to manifest in our society? What do I do to combat the cruel treatment of immigrants that persists on our southern border and in communities around the country? How do I reply to the seeds of brutality and intolerance recklessly watered by the words and actions of others, including by the President of these United States?
 
First I need to acknowledge the grief and trauma experienced by so many who have found themselves facing this violence head on. My love goes out to the families torn apart by deportations, incarceration, gun violence, and hate crimes. At the same time I need to work to transform the violence and suffering within myself and dig deep to find empathy for the oppressors and aggressors, recognizing their humanity while calling out their wicked actions as inhumane and unacceptable.

 

For sanity, support, and guidance, I need to reach out and stay connected to the beloved community that Dr. King preached about and dedicated his life to build. When I am caught by the illusion that I am just a small individual self, I am paralyzed into believing that I am helpless and that my actions are ineffective. But when I remember that I am part of the continuation of peace and healing that flow from so many great spiritual ancestors including Dr. King, Thich Nhat Hanh, Jesus, Mary, Buddha, and countless Grandmothers and Grandfathers, and that I am deeply connected to the Great Mystery of life, I have the energy to move forward and continue building this legacy of love.
 
Music helps open the door of my heart to connect with others and do this work of building beloved community. I am so grateful to have been given the gift of music by my parents and ancestors. I pray that I may use it in service of the transformative love that is so necessary for our collective survival. I continue to offer my humble contribution to peace and healing, to sing and to love, and I invite you to join with me in this beloved community of song. I pray that your gifts of service may be nourished and strengthened and that together our love can overcome hatred and ignorance.
 
Just this, only love,
Joe

P.S. If you are looking for ways to help those immigrant families who were recently targeted by ICE in Mississippi, I am making a donation to the Mississippi Immigrants’ Rights Alliance. Please join me in supporting this or the many other organizations working for social justice for immigrants.

Be Kind

Posted by on May 1, 2019 in newsletter | 0 comments

“Use your mind to be kind, be smart-use your heart, intend to be a friend, then do it all over again…”
 
These wise words came out of a collaboration between myself and 4th graders at Wines Elementary School in Ann Arbor a couple of years ago. The song we wrote has a simple but important message that is so needed in our world today: be kind. While many people in positions of leadership in this country, namely our current President, model divisiveness, hateful speech, and bullying behavior, these young people remind us of the importance of kindness, respect, and friendship.
 
I was honored to be part of this collaboration and to invite many friends to help the song grow into a single and a music video. Big thanks to Brian Woodring, Charlie Steen, Jamie Rusling, Chris Good, John Driscoll, Alice Sun, and of course to the students, teachers, and parents at Wines Elementary School for helping bring this vision of kindness to the world. Please enjoy and share!
 
Yours in kindness,

Joe