Bonne Fête!

By Elaina Taylor

If you could create any holiday, what would it be?

I thought for a while about this, toying with various ideas both serious and completely ludicrous. The jokester in me threatened to write about a Chipotle Appreciation Day, or a holiday dedicated to pun-tificating (endless comedic possibilities), a celebration of Corny Compliments, Be Your Favorite Disney Character for a Day, a Pajama Day, an Appreciate Yo’self holiday, and No Disclaimers Day.

My first serious thought, as someone who is profoundly interested in other cultures and diversity, produced the idea of an International Culture Day. It could be a day devoted to celebration of differences by learning about other cultures. People could cultivate respect for other ways of life, even if they couldn’t muster understanding or appreciation.

But tensions seethe in today’s world, and sew fear of immigrants, refugees, and other religions. Rooted as many are in their ethnocentrism, I don’t think people would be able to fully embrace the purpose and spirit of an International Culture Day. Instead, perhaps people can connect and bond with one another over common interests. What brings people together? Food! But also music. So why not an International Music Day?

Music is one of the few things that can transcend all barriers humans place between themselves. What else is so universal? Maybe a smile or a tear, but little else. Culture, ethnicity, race, language, age, gender, nationality, education level, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, income and more all separate us from one another. Melody, harmony, rhythm, and percussion speak to us on levels that transcend all those boundaries because music is a language that every person can understand and feel. Leo Tolstoy said, “Music is the shorthand of emotion.” Emotion is the soul of humanity, therefore music is a fundamental part of what it means to be human.

So why not a day that celebrates all kinds of musicians and genres, and is devoted to listening to varieties and styles of music that you have never encountered before? A day devoted to music festivals and concerts around the world?

It may be too much to ask for people to accept one another on a holiday that celebrates culture. So beginning with music, something that every culture creates, may be the perfect starting point. We may not be able to talk to or understand each other, but we can create music together. Cheesy as that tagline is, I stand by it and believe in the power of an International Music Holiday to make this world a better, more caring place.

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” – Victor Hugo

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