A Hypothetical Question on Humanity

Tonight, I sat amongst a crowd. One of many watching Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue bring their modern jazz stylings to the stage. The music opened up the night sky and the rain fell. In the quiet moments, they became one and the same, brass instrumentation set against the uneven rhythm of water drops on leaves and concrete-wooden benches.

Rain or shine, the music was going to play. It was rain, so we sat or stood or danced in it. Some of us pressed in under the awning that covered the stage. Some of us got soaked through.

The sounds of New Orleans trumped the weather. No one fled. For an hour, we were all in it together.

Then it was over.

Then it wasn’t.

The encore served up a medley of standards.  When the Saints Go Marching In. This Little Light of Mine. The band played and everyone sang. Because everyone recognized the music, everyone knew the words.

For several refrains, our similar life experiences couldn’t be denied. The fact that – at any moment, in any venue – thousands of us can sing the same song on cue or do the wave in time or play a game by the same rules was on display. We were a chorus, united by the lyrics of a children’s song.

It’s not that simple, of course. It will never be that simple. We can stand together and sing together and endure the rain together, because we don’t know each other. We don’t know what makes those around us different from us, what brands them “the other”. We don’t know why we should hate them.

If we could channel that moment, though – that powerful flash of humanity when the music plays and we all know the words – if that moment could become our everyday reality, what might that be like?

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