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April 2002 - Nr. 4

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Letter from the Editor

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister  
Dear Reader

On this Good Friday that I am writing this letter to you the weather is as triste as Chopin’s waltz, as we used to expect when we were children. Our parents would say that the heavens are weeping over the crimes committed 2 thousand years ago, as Holy Scriptures suggest. Man’s inhumanity to man has grown in the meantime to unprecedented proportions and unspeakable horrors are being perpetrated even as I write this, even in the Holy Land. Right there in the Middle East we can see that revenge does not work, does not solve anything. Retaliation only escalades the actions and deepens the hatred.

It appears that nothing has been learned from the recorded history of mankind, which leads one to the conclusion that the answers to our problems will also not be found there. Therefore all attempts to resolve our problems by looking backwards or retaliating to something that already happened recently or a long time ago, simply does not work. So why not leave the past were it belongs, in the past. Why not look instead to the future, work on what will be, create a tomorrow as best as we possibly can?!

Sure, it takes discipline to do that and the willingness to forget what was. Such emotions as grief and fear, anger and despair will have to be put on the backburner in favour of saner and more productive notions that translate into actions and are beneficial and promote life, not death.

Easter is such a time, a time that promotes life, at least eternal life. And in none of the known philosophies does it state that it is not ok to protect, enhance and further life.

It always surprises me to hear of the terrible inhumanity that we are capable of, and that in the name of righteousness. The religious philosophies of the world remind us to treat each other and our environment with respect. Yet we forget that we are the custodians of this place we call earth. This is our home for the time being and we should preserve it, not destroy it. I only know of one discipline in man’s endeavours that actually practises what is being preached: the arts.

German Choirs - a hotbed of past, present and future artistsWithin the realm of the arts we can see that ideology has no valid place as a dictating force, is not allowed to stand between artists like a sword to be used against each other like enemies. Among artists we find a lot of defenders and protectors for people and the planet’s resources. Religious faith does not stop an artist from performing another’s religious work. Artists do not shrink back from harsh realities. But most important is the fact that we admire what artists have created long after our devotion to politics has gone the way of all things that must change. What nature did not destroy and the actions of man and his terrible machines have not blown away leaves us what artists have created. Their buildings and monuments, their statues and figurines, their paintings and drawings, their poems and plays, their designs of artifacts and useful items, their visions of a future, their imagination in problem solving, will always be what propels mankind forward and what will be admired long after their civilisation has vanished from this earth.

One could furthermore deduce from this point of view that it would behove a government, any government, to support and help its artists, because they make it more possible to govern more easily. Restrictions of the arts have always only existed, and still do, in countries that fear the loss of control of its people. The same can be said about freedom of religion. All these things fall within the perimeter of freedom of communication in its varying forms and the practise thereof. Any civilisation that hinders its people to freely use these venues for the purpose of expression or worship, entertainment or simply to present it, is definitely in danger of going out like a light. It is the duty of governments to make it possible for people to enlighten themselves via ample education, so they can make valuable decisions as to their choices. If we were to have true freedom of choice in this matter on this planet we all would flourish and prosper and enjoy the exulting pleasures of much creativity all around us. We would experience a renaissance of unprecedented proportions instead of worrying what the next newscast would tell us.

This issue focuses on music as we encountered it recently in our midst, where there is so much great talent to be found. Focusing on the arts more strongly can only help all of us make a better world, create a better future.

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister

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