I took this picture of the Twin Towers blue tribute lights several years ago while riding along New York’s West Side Highway. The two light beams were being projected to honor those who died in that tragic event. I remember noticing all the moths flying in the light and at the time feeling they represented all the lost souls who perished on that sad September day. My camera was still pointing out the window when we started through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and it was almost confiscated by a guard, as if I might be using it to plan another attack.
I wanted to write about 911 but also wanted to steer clear of political commentary. There has been enough of that. What I hope to call attention to is what we have or have not learned since then and how can we prevent a continuation of the violence and wars that have followed. The current state of affairs in the Middle East is overwhelming and to read the news, it doesn’t seem like we are making any progress toward peace in the region. But maybe we are and we just don’t hear about it. True peace takes time and commitment and if we look behind the news media, there are many examples of people trying to come together with a true intention of peace. That is what I would like to focus on.
We each need to act in our own realm, relating to the people we interact with. With that intention of peace building, a few years ago my husband, Dean Evenson, and I decided to put together an album that would bring together musicians representing the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. These are the groups in conflict but when you look deeply enough, you realize they are all descended from the same source – grandfather Abraham. So in reality, the conflict is about cousins not getting along. We called the album – Healing the Holy Land: A Musical Journey of Faith and you can imagine why.
I remember after 911 realizing I knew very little about the Muslim faith and Dean and I made an effort to study and learn more through books and videos and talking to people. In the process we realized we had our own prejudices that needed to be addressed because they were based on misinformation. So if I could suggest one thing people could do, it would be to learn about each other, get to know people who are different from you and your family. Try to understand other faiths and be tolerant. We are fortunate to live in a country where supposedly we have freedom of religion, but if we continue to criticize those who believe differently from us, we are not practicing what we preach.
Here’s an excerpt from a review from Natural Awakenings of Healing the Holy Land: A Musical Journey of Faith:
What do an Iraqi woman from Baghdad, a Jewish peace advocate living in Jerusalem, a Palestinian oud player, an Iranian singer, a Lebanese Christian and a Turkish nez player all have in common? They all appear on Soundings of the Planet’s release, Healing the Holy Land. This stunning collection of songs and sacred chants from the Middle East represents a profound union of Jewish, Christian and Muslim music in a spirit of harmony and peace.
Dean and Dudley Evenson, following a long-held dream, have brought together musicians from the three Abrahamic faiths or ‘People of the Book’, as they are known. Because they are three groups that are often in conflict, what better way to bridge the chasm than with an album that honors and features each of their unique spiritual contributions? This album is a continuation of the Evensons’ mission of building cultural bridges of Peace Through Music, which they have pursued since founding their label, Soundings of the Planet, in 1979…Click to learn more about Healing the Holy Land.