Saturday, July 05, 2008

Einstein's Violin and social transformation

This weekend has been pretty quiet for me, other than a couple of ex-pat 4th of July celebrations on Friday. Darbi is in Ghana on a Habitat for Humanity trip which I have no doubt will bring some incredible revelations. Check her blog for details once she gets back the middle of next week. Saturday (July 5) was absolutely spectacular - bright blue sky and warm (hot?) temperatures. I got out to wash cars, worked in the yard a little, and did a lot of reading.

I finished a book that Jon gave me, Einstein's Violin, by Joseph Eger. I didn't know what to expect because the sub-title was A Conductor's Notes on Music, Physics, and Social Change. Eger has concertized as a French Horn player and was the music director of the Symphony for United Nations and principle guest conductor of the Central Philharmonic Orchestra in Beijing when he wrote the book. What I found in his writing was a very interesting combination of ruminations about music as the universal cross-cultural language, quantum physics and string theory, and deep political commentary. What I enjoyed most about it was Eger's stories of people with whom he'd work or had met. They include the likes of Leonard Bernstein, David Bohm, Queen Noor al Hussein, Eleanor Roosevelt, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and more.

Eger's proposal is that forces beyond our understanding are acting in our lives to bring social transformation, even among those nations that appear to be locked in unresolvable conflict. One of the most startling assertions Eger made related to the book I noted a couple of posts ago, Gate of the Sun. Eger is Jewish and his beliefs about Israel and Palestine were radically changed when he visited Palestine, Jordan, and Israel. During these visits, he was greeted with respect and appreciation by people from various religious and political perspectives, causing him to think that perhaps there actually could be a solution to the conflict between Israeli and Palestinian factions. Ultimately, he published his beliefs in an article in the September 15, 1980, Newsweek entitled "Is it Good for the Jews?"in which he espoused the belief that the welfare of Jewish people and the future of the state of Israel were tied to fair and compassionate treatment of the many Arabs who have been driven from Palestine.

The connections made possible by music operate in the same way that string theory proposes infinite relationships among all things throughout our ever-expanding universe. It is these connections, and the actions and reactions that echo across light years of space and time, that are bringing us together to recognize that our destinies and very survival are mutually linked.

This kind of world view may be a bit much to absorb but Eger's analysis, and particularly his citations of Einstein's views on science and social change, were pretty compelling. At a time when so many things are unsettled around the globe, and when so many of us are doing things to rectify the imbalances, our decisions are becoming so much more important. We shape our destiny and impact the future of others at every turn and we need world leadership who recognize that we are all one together rather than warring nations attempting to destroy each other.

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