One Law: Respect

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Mutual respect is the foundation of genuine harmony.

…The Dalai Lama

Identify these lyrics: Pick-a-little, talk-a-little; pick-a-little, talk-a-little, pick, pick, pick…talk-a-lot, pick-a-little more…Here’ a hint. It’s from a delightful, 1957 Broadway musical set in the heartland of America, Iowa.

Yes. I knew you could do it. It’s from The Music Man, the story of a fly-by-night traveling salesman who sells musical instruments in “River City” with the promise that he’ll teach the local boys to play and whip them into a grand marching band. Except “Professor” Harold Hill doesn’t know a lick about playing 76 Trombones or any other instrument.

The scene with the Pick-a-little, Talk-a-little lyrics features the proper ladies of town, led by the most hoity-toity of the hoity-toity, gossiping about Marion, the librarian. Marion had befriended the town’s wealthy reclusive benefactor before he died. Now, the ladies cry “foul” because “he left River City, the library building but he left all the books to her!” In addition to her questionable relationship with the “Miser Madison,” Marion’s other chief crime is keeping racy books in the library–which, in fact, are classics by Balzac and Chaucer. Of course, Marion is a sweet, innocent but growing older, maid.

Professor Harold Hill falls for her and can’t get himself to leave town when the townsfolk get wind of his shenanigans. He’d been feeding the band boys a line about learning to play their instruments by “thinking” about the music and imagining they are playing. After a good chase scene and it looks like Professor Hill is going to end up behind bars, the boys actually come out with some real music and the day is saved!

The Music Man is a slice of good old American pie with several timeless messages which are two sides of the same coin. First, things are often NOT what other people say they are. We can intimate, slander and accuse but the Truth is not served by vicious gossip, innuendo, and exaggerations. Americans are having to look at this issue right now in the aftermath of the Arizona shootings. Our political discourse is besotted with ugly fear-mongering and vicious mud slinging from both sides of the court. This serves the blind forces of divisiveness and destruction, not the uplifting of our lives.

On the other side of the coin is good ole positive thinking. Maybe Professor Hill was a con-man but the power of positive thinking is real. We can all “rise above” the fray and find ways to unify our society, not further divide it. We CAN speak well of others, keeping it “civil,” even if our ideologies are at odds. We CAN use positive thinking by envisioning a world of mutual respect and practicing what we envision.

As I’ve heard Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha has said time and time again: There is only one law: Respect.

Seems so simple. Let’s take a positive position and go for it.

Respectfully,

Elizabeth/ Du’Tsu

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