Love is often cited as the international language, but

Love is often cited as the international
language, but music is the true global unifier. From the melodic sounds of the
West African balafon to the squeaky noises of the Scottish Great Highland
bagpipes, music exists in various fashions in virtually every culture around
the globe. It is the one form of communication that requires no translation, as
all is understood from listening and feeling. Though the arts alone cannot
solve international conflicts, in the past music has effectively been used as a
method of reversing deep-rooted prejudices, unifying warring countries, and healing
after fatal terrorist attacks.

Music has been used to reverse
deep-rooted and unjustified prejudices, leading to a decrease in the likelihood
of hate-driven conflicts. African-American blues pianist Daryl Davis has
undeniably proven how the arts can unify people of conflicting views. While
Davis was performing in a bar one night, a white spectator approached him to
compliment him on his jazz style. Davis graciously offered the man a drink, and
soon learned that the man was a KKK member. The two bonded over a shared love
of jazz music, and after becoming acquainted, Davis was able to convince the
man to retire his KKK robe. After achieving this seemingly impossible task,
Davis devoted the rest of his life to utilizing religion and music to convince
Klansmen to de-robe. So far, he has collected the garments of over 200 KKK
members, and continues to befriend Klansmen today to implore a change of heart.
Daryl Davis’s efforts serve as a model for overcoming prejudice-induced
conflict. Instead of engaging in violent uprisings, as witnessed at
Charlottesville, Virginia this past August, Davis’ work suggests that we must
find common ground, and then engage in serious ideological discussions. This
model not only eliminates violent conflict, but it has been effective in
drastically altering the viewpoints of outspoken racists, thus preventing even
more violence in the future. Davis’ accomplishments are a clear example of how
music, a common ground for many, can be used to initiate conversations that
prevent hate-motivated conflicts.

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In the past, music has also been used to
unify warring parties, and to provide optimism for war-stricken countries. In
late April of 1987, amidst a growingly violent civil war, famed musician Bob
Marley led his “One Love Peace” concert in Kingston, Jamaica. This event,
established to ease political tensions and to raise money for Kingston’s
developing sanitary issue, pooled over 30,000 attendees. Former Jamaican Prime
Minister, Michael Manley, and leader of the opposition party, Edward Seaga,
were both present, sharing a moment of uncharacteristic coalition when Marley
famously adjoined their hands on stage, receiving a great deal of praise from
the audience. The music consisted of the top reggae charts of the time, a style
of music known for its uplifting, relaxing nature. Though this production did
little to actually suppress violence, it gave the Jamaicans optimism to grasp
onto until the war concluded three years later. The concert epitomizes how
music, though unable to subdue violence, can serve as a reminder that
coalescence remains possible when the right conditions finally emerge.

Additionally, music has been used as a
method of healing after fatal terrorist attacks, which are becoming
increasingly frequent world-wide. When a French soccer field was overcome by
three suicide bombers during a match in November of 2015, over one-hundred
spectators and players lost their lives. This deplorable attack launched France
into a national initiative to combat terrorism, and left the country in a state
of sheer uncertainty. German piano player David Martello was compelled to
relocate himself and his instrument to the sight of the attack after witnessing
this cataclysm on television. When he arrived, Martello planted his piano and
began to tickle the ivories, playing John Lennon’s song, “Imagine.” Martello
was able to utilize his musical ability to gather a group of grieving French
citizens, and sing the praises of peace and nonviolence in a time of immense
fatality. Though music did not prevent the terrorist attack from occurring,
Martello’s production embodies the potential of music as a healing force in
response to terror.

The arts alone cannot solve international
conflicts, but music can effectively be used as a method of reversing
deep-rooted prejudices, unifying warring countries, and healing after fatal
terrorist attacks. It would be ignorant to think that a couple of melodic tunes
can terminate widespread terrorism, or eliminate all racism, but harnessing the
arts as a form of healing and unity must not be underrated. Music is an art
form to which everyone around the world can relate. Its global outreach must
continue to be used as an international bandage, healing the wounds that divide
and demolish countries.