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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Things I'm Grateful For - Part 7

Despite the sheer amount of complaining I do - about my job, The Trolls, perpetual sunlight - I actually have a pretty great life. Sure, there's some bullshit and minor drama that I deal with, but in the grand scheme of things it's really not all that bad (this fact, however, will not stop me from whining about my life -- with a startling regularity).

Every once-in-a-while, I get handed a big heaping dose of perspective that actually shuts me up for a while -- and for that, I am grateful.

Today, I'm on my way into work, listening to NPR, as I usually do, and they featured an interview about this web site, which is dedicated to featuring emerging music from the Middle East. On the surface and taken at a very American face value, that's not such a big deal. Right? Except that in most Islamic countries, being in a hip hop band, for instance, is grounds for death.

Death, y'all. These kids can be killed for being hip hop artists.

Truth be told, it's  not really as simple as being killed for being a hip hop artist. You can also be put to death for being in a metal band or being a female in a band. There's really a laundry list of punishable-by-death musical offenses. You can be put to death for speaking out about social issues, religious issues or promoting a band whose lyrical content speaks of dissent.

Listening raptly to the interviewee, a sense of gratitude came over me -- for the perspective to realize that, as long as The Trolls aren't inciting a riot, they can be in a band that speaks out against their government; that my biggest issue is teaching The Trolls when to pick their battles, figuratively speaking. Which is a damn sight better than their having to pick their battles literally. That I can teach The Trolls to speak up against authority -- to question it and to live the life they want without fear of death or dismemberment. That I can create any kind of art I want, freely and without fear of governmental reprisal.

With a sense of relief that I live here, where freedom of expression is encouraged, my gratitude is overwhelming. Today, I am grateful for perspective.

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