So often when we are hit, we feel we have to hit back with the same weapons. But we should learn to fight back with the instruments of peace instead and bring in beauty where violence exists.
At 4.00 pm on May 27,1992, in the war-torn city of Sarajevo, people hungry for bread lined up outside a bakery. Without warning, a bomb fell and split the line into pieces, killing twenty-two people. Not far from the scene lived a musician named Vedran Smailovic. Saddened by the slaughter, Smailovic made a choice that day: Every day thereafter, at precisely 4.00pm, Vedran Smailovic put on his full, formal concert attire, took up his violin, walked out of his apartment into the midst of the battle raging around him. He placed a little campstool in the middle of the crater that the shell had made, and he played.
He played to the abandoned streets, to the smashed trucks and burning buildings, and to the terrified people who hid while bombs dropped and the bullets flew. Day after day, he played for civilization, for compassion, for peace, and for you and me.
His music said, ‘People of Sarajevo! People of Bosnia! People of the world! We are made for so much more than this! Listen, we are made to share beauty! Listen, we are made to share truth! Listen, we are made to bring peace to the chaos!’
In the way he knew best, using the resources and talent before him, Smailovic exercised dominion over the violence in his neighbourhood and pushed back the effects of the war.
This was no neutral or safe choice. And it affected everyone around him, and its influence was felt throughout the world. Two years later, on the stage of the Royal Conservatory Concert Hall in Manchester, England, the great Yo-Yo Ma performed David Wilde’s composition ‘The Cellist of Sarajevo,’ based on what Vedran Smailovic had done and Smailovic was there, sitting in the front row, to hear it.
This kind of story should be the norm for each one of us, in our own way. I should rise each day and ask God, “What rubble do you want me to breathe your life into today? How can I make something or someone feel beautiful today?” Then pick up your own “cello”, in whatever form that may take, and play.
Destruction doesn’t just come from bombs of war and aren’t always visible to the eye. They can exist in the human heart and in our relationships, coming from things like abuse, addiction, deception, fear, hate, lust, lying, malice, oppression, selfishness, thanklessness, violence, waste, and these “bombs” are going off all around us every day.
Take this opportunity to see your war at hand. Wake up, take your stand, and play. Bring in beauty instead of violence..!
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