Archive for the ‘Band News’ Category
“Music is the best means we have of digesting time,” Igor Stravinsky once remarked (a remark often misattributed to W.H. Auden). “Music is the sound wave of the soul,” the wise and wonderful Morley observed. Psychologists have studied why playing music benefits your brain more than any other activity and how listening to music enraptures the brain. But, more than that, music works over the human spirit and stands as a supreme manifestation of our very humanity — something Carl Sagan knew when he sent the Golden Record into the cosmos as a representation of the most universal truths of our civilization.
Gathered here are uncommonly beautiful reflections on the singular power of music by some of humanity’s greatest writers, collected over years of reading — please enjoy.
Susan Sontag spent the majority of her adult life reading between eight and ten hours a day, and never fewer than four. Her intense love of literature was paralleled by a commensurate love of music. In a diary entry found in Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947–1963 (public library) — the spectacular volume that gave us young Sontag on personal growth, art, marriage, the four people a great writer must be, and her duties for being a twenty-something — she writes at age 15:
Music is at once the most wonderful, the most alive of all the arts — it is the most abstract, the most perfect, the most pure — and the most sensual. I listen with my body and it is my body that aches in response to the passion and pathos embodied in this music.
In his final essay collection, A Man Without a Country (public library) — the source of his abiding wisdom on the shapes of stories — Kurt Vonnegut wrote that music, above all else, “made being alive almost worthwhile” for him. He synthesized the sentiment in an extra-concentrated dose of his wry irreverence:
If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:
THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay makes a similar point via counterpoint. In a beautiful 1920 letter to a friend, found in The Letters of Edna St. Vincent Millay (public library) — which also gave us the beloved poet on what it really means to be an anarchist, hertouching appreciation of her mother, and her exquisite love letters — 28-year-old Millay writes:
I can whistle almost the whole of the Fifth Symphony, all four movements, and with it I have solaced many a whining hour to sleep. It answers all my questions, the noble, mighty thing, it is “green pastures and still waters” to my soul. Indeed, without music I should wish to die. Even poetry, Sweet Patron Muse forgive me the words, is not what music is. I find that lately more and more my fingers itch for a piano, and I shall not spend another winter without one. Last night I played for about two hours, the first time in a year, I think, and though most everything is gone enough remains to make me realize I could get it back if I had the guts. People are so dam lazy, aren’t they? Ten years I have been forgetting all I learned so lovingly about music, and just because I am a boob. All that remains is Bach. I find that I never lose Bach. I don’t know why I have always loved him so. Except that he is so pure, so relentless and incorruptible, like a principle of geometry.
No one has illustrated the vitalizing power of music with more marvelous morbidity than Friedrich Nietzsche. In an aphorism from his 1889 book Twilight of the Idols, or, How to Philosophize with a Hammer (public library), he proclaims:
Without music life would be a mistake.
The point of this morbidity, of course, is to convey the infinitely enlivening power of music — something Nietzsche elaborated on in an autobiographical fragment quoted in Julian Young’s altogether fantastic Friedrich Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography(public library):
God has given us music so that above all it can lead us upwards. Music unites all qualities: it can exalt us, divert us, cheer us up, or break the hardest of hearts with the softest of its melancholy tones. But its principal task is to lead our thoughts to higher things, to elevate, even to make us tremble… The musical art often speaks in sounds more penetrating than the words of poetry, and takes hold of the most hidden crevices of the heart… Song elevates our being and leads us to the good and the true. If, however, music serves only as a diversion or as a kind of vain ostentation it is sinful and harmful.
Arthur Schopenhauer was a major influence on his compatriot of Nietzsche. In hisextensive inquiry into the power of music, found in the first volume of his 1818 masterwork The World as Will and Representation (public library), Schopenhauer writes:
Music … stands quite apart from all the [other arts]. In it we do not recognize the copy, the repetition, of any Idea of the inner nature of the world. Yet it is such a great and exceedingly fine art, its effect on man’s innermost nature is so powerful, and it is so completely and profoundly understood by him in his innermost being as an entirely universal language, whose distinctness surpasses even that of the world of perception itself, that in it we certainly have to look for more than that exercitium arithmeticae occultum nescientis se numerare animi [“an unconscious exercise in arithmetic in which the mind does not know it is counting”] which Leibniz took it to be… We must attribute to music a far more serious and profound significance that refers to the innermost being of the world and of our own self.
More of Schopenhauer’s ideas about music can be found here.
In her early twenties, Virginia Woolf found a very different kind of exaltation in music. In a lengthy 1903 diary entry titled “A Dance at Queen’s Gate” from A Passionate Apprentice: The Early Journals, 1897–1909 (public library), the 21-year-old writer recounts the particularly intoxicating effect of dance music (which, at the time, involved violins) during a wild night on the town:
That is the quality which dance music has — no other: it stirs some barbaric instinct — lulled asleep in our sober lives — you forget centuries of civilization in a second, & yield to that strange passion which sends you madly whirling round the room — oblivious of everything save that you must keep swaying with the music — in & out, round & round — in the eddies & swirls of the violins. It is as though some swift current of water swept you along with it. It is magic music.
The great French Romantic poet, novelist, and dramatist Victor Hugo extolled music’s singular potency with sublime succinctness. In the preface to his 1864 study of those he considered to be “the greatest geniuses of all time,” somewhat deceptively titled William Shakespeare (public library), he writes:
Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.
Aldous Huxley takes a complementary perspective in a beautiful essay titled The Rest Is Silence (on which Alex Ross’s excellent The Rest Is Noise is a play), found in the altogether terrific 1931 collection Music at Night and Other Essays (public library):
After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
When the inexpressible had to be expressed, Shakespeare laid down his pen and called for music.
Music, the combiner, nothing more spiritual, nothing more sensuous, a god, yet completely human, advances, prevails, holds highest place; supplying in certain wants and quarters what nothing else could supply.
Nearly a century and a half later, Oliver Sacks captured this supreme spiritual sustenance of music in Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (public library), which remains the most stimulating inquiry into the source of music’s power ever written. Reflecting on a particularly trying moment for the human spirit — the days following the September 11 attacks — Dr. Sacks writes:
On my morning bike ride to Battery Park, I heard music as I approached the tip of Manhattan, and then saw and joined a silent crowd who sat gazing out to sea and listening to a young man playing Bach’s Chaconne in D on his violin. When the music ended and the crowd quietly dispersed, it was clear that the music had brought them some profound consolation, in a way that no words could ever have done.
Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional. It has no power to represent anything particular or external, but it has a unique power to express inner states or feelings. Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation. One does not have to know anything about Dido and Aeneas to be moved by her lament for him; anyone who has ever lost someone knows what Dido is expressing. And there is, finally, a deep and mysterious paradox here, for while such music makes one experience pain and grief more intensely, it brings solace and consolation at the same time.
Complement with Anthony Burgess’s account of the magical moment he fell in love with music as a little boy and this wonderful vintage guide to the seven essential skills of listening to music, then revisit similar collections of great writers’ reflections on New York City, the creative benefits of keeping a diary, the importance of boredom, and how creativity works.
From Brain Pickings – Great Writers on the Power of Music
The City of Raleigh Fire Department will hold a graduation ceremony for the 41st Fire Academy on Thursday, 18 August 2016 at 7 p.m. at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. The graduates have spent the last 30 weeks attending classes covering topics ranging from fire suppression to emergency medical training. Upon graduation from the academy, the new firefighters will be North Carolina state certified emergency medical technicians and state certified Level II firefighters. “We are very proud of these new firefighters that have endured rigorous training with dedication and perseverance,” Raleigh Fire Chief John McGrath said.
Wake and District has been honored for the past 10 years to play graduations for Raleigh’s bravest. To the members of RFD41 — would like to extend our congratulations; we wish all the best in the days, weeks, months and years ahead of you.
Remember what brotherhood means — it is a belief all people should act with warmth and equality toward one another, regardless of differences in race, creed, nationality, etc. Promise one another you will never knowingly wrong a brother/sister, or see them wronged; to all of this you pledge your honor to observe and keep as long as life remains. It’s not our job on the line. It’s our lives. And yours.
Sharing from Amy Rees Anderson’s blog — Once upon a time, a very strong woodcutter asked for a job in a timber merchant and he got it. The pay was really good and so was the work condition. For those reasons, the woodcutter was determined to do his best. His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he supposed to work.
The first day, the woodcutter brought 18 trees.
“Congratulations,” the boss said. “Go on that way!”
Very motivated by the boss words, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he could only bring 15 trees. The third day he tried even harder, but he could only bring 10 trees. Day after day he was bringing less and less trees.
“I must be losing my strength”, the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on.
“When was the last time you sharpened your axe?” the boss asked.
“Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees…”
Stephen Covey, in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People shares this story and then he reflects on it saying:
“Our lives are like that. We sometimes get so busy that we don’t take time to sharpen the “axe”. In today’s world, it seems that everyone is busier than ever, but less happy than ever.
Why is that? Could it be that we have forgotten how to stay “sharp”? There’s nothing wrong with activity and hard work. But we should not get so busy that we neglect the truly important things in life, like our personal life, taking time to get close to our Creator, giving more time for our family, taking time to read etc.
We all need time to relax, to think and meditate, to learn and grow. If we don’t take the time to sharpen the “axe”, we will become dull and lose our effectiveness.”
It is so true. We will never be as effective in life if we don’t take the time to stay centered on the things that truly matter. This weekend ahead is a great time to refocus yourself and really meditate on the things that matter and relook at how you are handling your priorities in life. Make sure you are putting the things that truly matter first because when we do everything else will fall into place as it should.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Amy Rees Anderson is the Managing Partner and Founder of REES Capital, an an angel firm that provides entrepreneurs and business executives’ support and guidance. Amy is also an author and serves as a weekly contributor to Forbes and the Huffington Post.
Fear of failure is said to be the greatest barrier to one’s success, which makes total sense given that our fear of failure is what stops us from making attempts in the first place. Yet, can anyone blame us for fearing failure? Just think about it, from the first moment we are born we begin hearing the directives to “be careful” and to “watch out”, which relay the message to our young minds that the world is a dangerous place that we won’t be able to handle. We are left with the distinct impression that if we were to attempt something new, we would likely fail. And based on the sternness of the warnings, we perceive that failure would not be a good thing. Thus we begin to fear that failing will result in dire consequences to either our physical or emotional well-being. It may even make us unlovable. And so we are raised from a young age to live in absolute fear of failure. So, how do we move past that?
Early in my career I came across a book called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. that literally changed my life. “At the bottom of every one of your fears is simply the fear that you can’t handle whatever life may bring you,” she explains, and “all you have to do to diminish your fear is to develop more trust in your ability to handle whatever comes your way!” Because “if you knew you could handle anything that came your way, what would you possibly have to fear? The answer is: Nothing!” Susan then goes on to teach several tools to help us see that feeling fear is completely normal and nothing to feel ashamed about. Everyone feels fear. She teaches us to go ahead and let yourself feel the fear and then move forward and do it anyway, whatever “it” is. She states that as long as we are moving forward and growing in life, our fears will never go away, so we need to learn to recognize that they are normal and then push past them by attempting the very thing we fear. The more we attempt, the more confidence we gain, the less afraid we feel the next time, and so forth. I absolutely loved the simplicity of her book and I highly recommend it.
Another lesson I learned regarding failure is, what I perceived to be failures in the moment often ending up being the very thing that led me to my greatest successes. As a result of one business deal falling through I found myself pursuing a new opportunity that ended up being far more successful than I could ever have imagined. Mind you at the time the first deal fell apart I had no idea what lay ahead of me, so I grieved and mourned as if it was the end of everything. Then I came across a story that helped me change my perspective. The story was about a man who was the sole survivor of a shipwreck who was stranded on a small desert island with only the items from his ship that had washed up on the shore with him. The man carefully constructed a small hut to store his few precious belongings and to protect himself from the weather. One day as we was standing in the ocean fishing for his next meal he turned back to shore to see that his hut was on fire with smoke billowing into the air. The worst was happening. “God, how could you do this to me,” he cried. He believed that all was lost. Later he heard the sound of an approaching ship in the distance. It was coming to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” asked the man of his rescuers. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.
“Destiny is a mysterious thing, sometimes enfolding a miracle in a leaky basket of catastrophe.” – Francisco Goldman
“Your journey has molded you for the greater good. It was exactly what it needed to be. Don`t think you`ve lost time. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. And now is right on time.” – Asha Tyson
Redefine failure. No longer see attempting “it” only to not accomplish your desired outcome as a failure – redefine that as a success because you gave “it” your best shot and you learned from the experience. The success comes from having improved. Redefine failure as any time that you allow your fears to stop you from doing the things you truly want to do in life. Then move forward and get “it” done!
~Amy Rees Anderson (follow her daily blogs at www.amyreesanderson.com/blog )
“WE ARE”…two of the most powerful words, for what you put after them shapes your band. We don’t often enough think about the words we say about our bands, and yet the things we say about bands have such a massive impact on our self-esteem, self-confidence and success. The things we say about bands can either impact us negatively or, if we are smart about the things we say about one another, we have the ability to use our words in a way which can impact our organizations for the positive in significant ways.
So often we say things like “he’s terrible” or “she can’t play that” or “we’re not good enough to beat that band” etc. And so rarely do we say things like “we sounded incredible” or “we just put our best performance out there” or “we rocked it”. We are firm believers that the way we talk about band-mates and to organizations have a massive impact on who we are and how we feel. We genuinely believe that when we say positive things to band members it changes our view of our program and builds our confidence and self-esteem and gives us the courage to go out and try new things and become better.
Here is a list of “WE ARE” phrases to consider saying to your band at rehearsals, events and contests:
- WE ARE happy
- WE ARE capable
- WE ARE smart
- WE ARE open
- WE ARE determined
- WE ARE hardworking
- WE ARE loved
- WE ARE smart looking
- WE ARE successful
- WE ARE awesome
- WE ARE destined for GREATNESS!
Who wouldn’t feel amazing about their bands if they looked in the mirror and said those things each time they come together? Just think how powerful you would feel as you played your pipes and drums; you would be unstoppable!
You may as well try it…after all, what could it hurt?
Hard-work, determination and miles of smiles shinned through on 23 July 2016 for the bands of Wake and District who participated at the inaugural Mike Murphy Memorial indoor pipe band competition in our home town of Raleigh. It was a great day of piping and drumming. Here are our results:
- G5 – overall 2nd place
- G4 – Medley 1st place, MSR 3rd place – overall 2nd place
- G3 – Medley 1st place, MSR 2nd place – overall 1st place
This weekend marked the spectacle of the 61st Annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games (GMHG) at MacRae Meadows on Grandfather Mountain near Linville, NC. Although Wake and District has never been formally invited to participate at these games — band members were once again embedded on the mountain – creating and participating in all the shenanigans. The organizers of the GMHG strive to be the premier Scottish Highland games and gathering of Clans, Guests, Families, Sponsors, Patrons and Visitors. Congratulations to our members who competed. They included:
- Joseph Williams: G4 6th Sr. March.
- Dalton Marshall: G3 3rd 6/8 march
- Timothy Hinson: G2 1st 6/8 march, 2nd Piob, 3rd MSR, 6th H/J (G2 2nd place piper of the Day)
- Andrew Kerr: G1 3rd 6/8
- Spirit of the South Quartet: 2nd place
To all our family, friends and fans on the mountain – we hope you had a grand time and have a safe journey home; see you at rehearsal.
What does it mean to be committed to something, whether to a person, a cause, a project, a government, a job, or pipe band? It’s funny how many of the words we use to describe devotion are also used to describe insanity. The word “fan”, for instance, refers to someone who is a devoted admirer of an artist, musician, author, or other creator (or a piece of their work), but it comes from “fanatic”, a maniacal follower of some cause or leader. The guy in line at the Stephen King signing is a fan; the guy who follows him around from signing to signing claiming King killed John Lennon is a fanatic.
Likewise, we use the same word, “committed”, to describe someone’s devotion to a cause or person as we use to describe their incarceration in a mental institution. Is there a similarity? Well, to be committed means to pledge, bind, or oblige one’s self to something: a course of action, a system of beliefs, or indeed a medical treatment facility.
So, is being committed a sort of insanity? Well, no — but certainly there are some similarities between the kind of obsession which leads us to do horrible things to ourselves or others and the kind of obsession that leads us to greatness. We can look at someone like Steve Jobs and see that at work, the single-minded commitment to a vision of how the world should and could work, and the refusal to acknowledge other, “lesser” ways. OK, enough prologue. What is commitment, then?
1. Commitment is passion. Obsessive passion, maybe. Someone who is truly committed to something can’t not do it. You can’t live without accomplishing your cause or being with your significant other. Fulfilling thiscommitment gives you great pleasure — being with the person you love, pushing forward a project you believe in, creating a tiny pocket of betterness in the world, these are deeply satisfying to the person who is committed.
2. Commitment is action. Actions speak louder than words, right? A person who is committed shows their commitment, over and over, in his or her actions. If your actions don’t match your commitment, you simply aren’t committed to it. You may have a belief, a hunch, a preference, a desire, but not a commitment.
3. Commitment is obligation. What separates the truly committed from the rest of us is the way they embrace the crappiest parts of the job, setting their jaw and taking on the work the rest of us wouldn’t dream of. It’s the parent scrubbing puke from the carpet at 4 in the morning, the doting spouse helping their aged partner on and off the toilet, the executive who flies halfway around the room to apologize in person for a badly flubbed marketing campaign, the firefighter who charges into a dangerous fire because he or she hears screaming, the soldier who holds his or her ground while the rest of company flees. You do these things not because they are fun or pleasurable in their own right, but because your commitment demands you do them.
4. Commitment is larger than the self. Commitments are personal, but they’re also about relationships. The committed artist sacrifices everything to express his or her inner vision to the world. The committed lover cares first and foremost for the emotional and physical well-being of his or her partner. The committed performer takes the stage in the service of the audience. The committed activist creates a better world not for him- or herself but for the generations to come. True commitment embraces and engages the world.
5. Commitment is voluntary. Commitment is obligation, yes, but it’s freely chosen obligation. Even the draftee chooses to be a hero in the heat of combat — or not to be. The environmentalist huddling shivering in a cold boat in arctic waters, protecting a pod of whales from a whaling ship, can take refuge in the fact they chose to be there. The parent chooses to have and keep a child, no matter how accidental the pregnancy; the spouse chooses to stay in the marriage; the worker chooses to stay on the job. It is choice which makes it a commitment — without the choice it’s just slavery.
(Ironically, being committed to a mental institution is not voluntary. Oh well…)
When we feel forced into something, when we feel obligations hanging on us like an albatross, when our actions fail to match our beliefs — these are signs we aren’t as committed as maybe we thought we were. Maybe not committed at all. Pay attention to those signs — it’s easy to convince ourselves of a commitment which isn’t really a commitment at all.
Creating teamwork is a challenging process, and not all bands work as a team. Here are 12 tips you can follow to build a winning team in your band. Merely referring to a collection of band members as a team doesn’t make them one. The first question to ask is, is this a team or a group? Each has a purpose. Typically, a team shares leadership and is interdependent, meaning they depend on each other for information, strengths and weaknesses to achieve a team goal. A leader (band manager, pipe major, drum sergeant) spearheads a group; members work on their own most of the time with little or no dependence on other members to do their role. There may be a group effort but it is not a team. You can’t have the same expectations of a group as you do a team. Determine what you are working with, team or group, and proceed from there.
- Lay the foundation before you begin construction. In my experience, the most successful teams invest time in laying the foundation to create a common framework for everyone. The building blocks are in the team infrastructure and team dynamics. You may get started by addressing the following: What is the purpose of the team; their function in relation to the band goals; the actual team goal? I recently posed these questions to a newly formed team of 17 people and got 17 different perspectives. Don’t assume everyone is on the same page until you have the discussion.
- Make the team aware of the four stages of development. Those stages are: forming, storming, norming and performing. Explain that the team will progress and digress depending on multiple variables such as turnover and change. Ask the team which stage of development they see themselves and what needs to occur to move to a higher level.
- Take a team “pulse.” This can happen in a couple of different ways. One way is through an initial team survey that generates data on how members perceive team functioning and interactions. A survey will include topics such as commitment, trust, communication, and conflict resolution. Administer the survey at least quarterly to determine progress and team development priorities. Another way to take a team “pulse” is to have periodic frank discussions about what is working and what is not. Practice regular, informal conversations that keep communication channels open.
- Assess. Identify a tool to assess behavior work style (such as DISC) of each team member. This exercise invariably illuminates each member’s style preferences, their team contributions, and gives everyone information to adapt and work together more effectively. For most people this creates an “ah ha” experience that is pivotal in fostering understanding and communication.
- Push pro-activity. Don’t wait until there is conflict to establish a team charter. A charter, generated by team members, should specify guidelines and behavioral boundaries. This will set expectations and clarify what is acceptable and intolerant behavior. Make it clear that the charter can always be amended. Be sure everyone has a copy. Review it on a regular basis and go through it carefully with a new team member.
- Form common skills. Be sure everyone has a common skill base for communication, conflict resolution, problem solving, giving and receiving peer feedback. I find that teams who have these common skill sets are much more productive than teams that don’t. Technical expertise is only half of the success quotient.
- Examine expectations. Are the expectations of team members and the leader clearly communicated? This goes beyond job descriptions. For example, what do people expect to get out of working together as a team, i.e, expression, creativity; what can be expected of their contributions? There is a very user-friendly instrument, Managing Work Expectations, by Inscape Publishing, that be helpful in this process.
- Acknowledge unique talents and contributions. Each team member brings value to the team. Point out or showcase various abilities. Take time in a meeting to recognize one or two members. Be sure everyone receives equal recognition.
- Build dialogue, extinguish monologue. Aim toward two-way interaction, exchange of ideas, and developing new insights in regular communication. Invite members to ask about others reasoning or thinking and explain how they think of or see a situation. The Ladder of Inference referred to in Peter Senge’s, The Fifth Discipline, is a good starting ground.
- Do some team-building. Initially you may consider a series of team sessions that incorporate the suggestions above with team building activities. Once the team is grounded, you may benefit by having quarterly or bi-annual team building sessions. The type of team building you choose, from classroom experiential to rope climbing, needs to match the culture and challenges of the team. There are hundreds of activities that are metaphors for what goes on or doesn’t go on, in the team experience. Whatever you choose to do, be certain there will be valuable learning and fun.
- Laugh together. Laughter is a common language the entire team will understand. So legitimize levity among team members and you will likely lessen their stress and build their bond. Create times for people to laugh together and loosen up. This will also stimulate creativity. Consider some of these ideas: start a meeting with a relevant joke or funny story, show a clip of a comedy video tape (or sports bloopers) that pertains to a current challenge; buy everyone a pair of Groucho Marx style nose and glasses.
- Celebrate. Provide a continental breakfast or bring in lunch and celebrate for no special reason than to say thank you to the team. Or identify a theme (Mardi Gras, Cinco de Mayo) and ask people to bring in food to share. Play music and decorate the lunch room. Don’t expect employees to gather after work hours. Most people have family obligations and personal commitments.
As we go about our lives, we can choose which of the wolves we want to feed. We can choose to feed the wolf of joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, and all those good things in every moment, or we can choose to feed the bad wolves. We have to remember that it’s not often one choice, one feeding of a wolf or the other, that creates what we see inside ourselves and what we see inside the world. It’s a long history of feeding one wolf over the other. It starts every day.
These wolves live inside us. Though one wolf – say, the good wolf – might at any given point in time be a little bit malnourished, we can always feed it. Though one wolf, the evil wolf, may be a little bit plump because of choices that we’ve made in the past, we can choose today to feed a different wolf.
It often turns out that what we see in the world from other people and from our circumstances is very much correlated with the wolves that we’re feeding inside of us and inside of other people. When we encourage other people, when we feed their good wolves, we see that. We see that in them, and we see that in the people they change, and they tend to want to feed other people’s good wolves. When someone’s bad wolf has been overfed, we tend to see that, and those are the wolves that bite us. Those are the wolves that hurt us, as opposed to those good wolves, which protect us and help us out along the way.
How people treat you is their karma;
how you react is yours.
In some ways, it reminds me of a song called “Flame Turns Blue” by David Gray. The lyric that really catches me is, “I’m in collision with every stone I ever threw…”
I’m in collision with every stone I ever threw or, as we may say in proper English, I’m in collision with every stone I’ve ever thrown. Such a beautiful line. It’s just another way of saying that the energy we put out there in the world, we get back. We throw stones. We get hit by them. We throw out ripples of goodness. Some way or the other, we get hit by those, too.
The funny thing about this is that we don’t always see it come back at the source where we share it. We may smile at somebody today, and tomorrow when we need somebody to smile at us, they smile. In some traditions, they call it “karma.” We can call it all sorts of things, right? I think the more that we feed those good wolves in the world, the more they come back to us.
As you’re going about your days, as you’re going about your weeks, I hope that in those moments in which it seems so much easier to feed the bad wolf, you’ll choose instead to choose the one that you want to win, the good wolf.
We wouldn’t even think about trying to compete with a fireworks display, especially on the Fourth of July. So instead – we will reflect on some words from the 40th President of the United States of America — President Ronald Reagan…
It’s worth remembering that all the celebration of this day is rooted in history. It’s recorded that shortly after the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia celebrations took place throughout the land, and many of the former Colonists — they were just starting to call themselves Americans — set off cannons and marched in fife and drum parades.
What a contrast with the sober scene that had taken place a short time earlier in Independence Hall. Fifty-six men came forward to sign the parchment. It was noted at the time that they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors. And that was more than rhetoric; each of those men knew the penalty for high treason to the Crown. “We must all hang together,” Benjamin Franklin said, “or, assuredly, we will all hang separately.” And John Hancock, it is said, wrote his signature in large script so King George could see it without his spectacles. They were brave. They stayed brave through all the bloodshed of the coming years. Their courage created a nation built on a universal claim to human dignity, on the proposition that every man, woman, and child had a right to a future of freedom.
For just a moment, let us listen to the words again: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Last night when we rededicated Miss Liberty and relit her torch, we reflected on all the millions who came here in search of the dream of freedom inaugurated in Independence Hall. We reflected, too, on their courage in coming great distances and settling in a foreign land and then passing on to their children and their children’s children the hope symbolized in this statue here just behind us: the hope that is America. It is a hope that someday every people and every nation of the world will know the blessings of liberty.
And it’s the hope of millions all around the world. In the last few years, I’ve spoken at Westminster to the mother of Parliaments; at Versailles, where French kings and world leaders have made war and peace. I’ve been to the Vatican in Rome, the Imperial Palace in Japan, and the ancient city of Beijing. I’ve seen the beaches of Normandy and stood again with those boys of Pointe du Hoc, who long ago scaled the heights, and with, at that time, Lisa Zanatta Henn, who was at Omaha Beach for the father she loved, the father who had once dreamed of seeing again the place where he and so many brave others had landed on D-day. But he had died before he could make that trip, and she made it for him. “And, Dad,” she had said, “I’ll always be proud.”
And I’ve seen the successors to these brave men, the young Americans in uniform all over the world, young Americans like you here tonight who man the mighty U.S.S. Kennedy and the Iowa and other ships of the line. I can assure you, you out there who are listening, that these young are like their fathers and their grandfathers, just as willing, just as brave. And we can be just as proud. But our prayer tonight is that the call for their courage will never come. And that it’s important for us, too, to be brave; not so much the bravery of the battlefield, I mean the bravery of brotherhood.
All through our history, our Presidents and leaders have spoken of national unity and warned us that the real obstacle to moving forward the boundaries of freedom, the only permanent danger to the hope that is America, comes from within. It’s easy enough to dismiss this as a kind of familiar exhortation. Yet the truth is that even two of our greatest Founding Fathers, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, once learned this lesson late in life. They’d worked so closely together in Philadelphia for independence. But once that was gained and a government was formed, something called partisan politics began to get in the way. After a bitter and divisive campaign, Jefferson defeated Adams for the Presidency in 1800. And the night before Jefferson’s inauguration, Adams slipped away to Boston, disappointed, brokenhearted, and bitter.
For years their estrangement lasted. But then when both had retired, Jefferson at 68 to Monticello and Adams at 76 to Quincy, they began through their letters to speak again to each other. Letters that discussed almost every conceivable subject: gardening, horseback riding, even sneezing as a cure for hiccups; but other subjects as well: the loss of loved ones, the mystery of grief and sorrow, the importance of religion, and of course the last thoughts, the final hopes of two old men, two great patriarchs, for the country that they had helped to found and loved so deeply. “It carries me back,” Jefferson wrote about correspondence with his cosigner of the Declaration of Independence, “to the times when, beset with difficulties and dangers, we were fellow laborers in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right to self-government. Laboring always at the same oar, with some wave ever ahead threatening to overwhelm us and yet passing harmless . . . we rowed through the storm with heart and hand . . . .” It was their last gift to us, this lesson in brotherhood, in tolerance for each other, this insight into America’s strength as a nation. And when both died on the same day within hours of each other, that date was July 4th, 50 years exactly after that first gift to us, the Declaration of Independence.
My fellow Americans, it falls to us to keep faith with them and all the great Americans of our past. Believe me, if there’s one impression I carry with me after the privilege of holding for 5\1/2\ years the office held by Adams and Jefferson and Lincoln, it is this: that the things that unite us — America’s past of which we’re so proud, our hopes and aspirations for the future of the world and this much-loved country — these things far outweigh what little divides us. And so tonight we reaffirm that Jew and gentile, we are one nation under God; that black and white, we are one nation indivisible; that Republican and Democrat, we are all Americans.
Tonight, with heart and hand, through whatever trial and travail, we pledge ourselves to each other and to the cause of human freedom, the cause that has given light to this land and hope to the world.
My fellow Americans, we’re known around the world as a confident and a happy people. Tonight there’s much to celebrate and many blessings to be grateful for. So while it’s good to talk about serious things, it’s just as important and just as American to have some fun. Now, let’s have some fun — let the celebration begin!
Government is the people’s business, and every man, woman and child becomes a shareholder with the first penny of tax paid. With all the profound wording of the Constitution, probably the most meaningful words are the first three, “We, the People.”