Monday, May 11, 2015

You're Doing It Wrong!

The following story is entirely made up. Nothing actually happened. The point is the point, and that, my friends, is the point.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was practicing piano one day when a guest strolled into the parlor. He listened to Mozart roll through scales and arpeggios for a couple minutes, and then ten seconds after the master began playing his latest piece, the stranger cleared his throat.

"Excuse me, sir, you're doing it wrong."

Mozart stopped, hands frozen above the keyboard. "I'm sorry?"

"You're doing it wrong, sir. Your left hand is playing all these weird notes on the bottom of the keyboard, and your right hand is way to high. There's too much distance between them."

"Is that right?" said Mozart. "Can you tell me how you knew this?"

A smug grin spread across the intruder's face as he continued to explain that he'd read a book once about how to play piano, and though he hated piano music, he knew all he needed to about how to play piano. "And," he concluded, "that is why I know you're doing it wrong."

"So you've never taken any lessons?" asked the master.

"No, I despise the sound of a piano, myself."

"But you've read a book about piano music?"

"Yes, sir." The grin disappeared, replaced by a wimpish pout. "In addition, if you really want people to enjoy your music, you're just going to have to play on a more elementary level. All these fancy notes and runs and things just make less talented people feel bad that they can't keep up with you. We have to make it fair for others. You're just not inclusive enough." And with that, he produced a pair of handcuffs and slapped them across Mozart's wrists.

Mozart stared at his hands. Who was this man anyway? He hated piano music, but he had the gall to come into Mozart's own study and tell him how to play. Mozart reflected back on his years as a musician, learning the mechanics of sound, chord structure, music theory, all the hours and years he'd spent perfecting his craft, living his love for music out loud in every piece he wrote. And to top it off, he restricted the master's ability to play the way he best knew how!

 But, as he looked again at his hands, Mozart decided to take on this challenge, to defy this upstart and prove him wrong once and for all. He started to play again, and true to form, he worked around the restraints placed on his ability. Even though he couldn't spread his hands to play the full length of the keyboard, he used the range he had to play a beautiful, sad concerto in G minor.

He no sooner played the last notes when once again the stranger stepped in. Hauling a wire cutter from his pocket, he then proceeded to snip and remove every third string from the sound board of the baby grand. As he cut and pulled, he said through gritted teeth, "You're doing it wrong. You can't play those notes again. I'm afraid we'll have to step in and make sure you play the right way."

"What's with this 'we'," asked Mozart in frustration. "Do you have a mouse in your pocket? I don't see a 'we' anywhere in here!"

The intruder wheeled and waved his handful of wires under Mozart's nose. "We are those who know best, Mr. Mizzart. We have to show you, you don't have a monopoly on the right way to play music." Tossing the collection of strings into a corner wastebasket, he added. "We've arranged for you to take oboe lessons, by the way. If you don't understand other instruments, you'll never be a musician worthy of performing."

Then he walked out.

We spend way too much time telling others that we know better than they do about how to live their lives, how to conduct their faith, how to run their businesses, how to raise their children, even how to write their own stories, that we have no idea how much a hypocrite we're proving ourselves.

My bible tells me every man (and woman) must work out their own salvation between them and God. Yes, there are certain things that are laid out as basic. As a Christian, I profess faith in Jesus Christ as my God and Savior. Jews have their own faith system, Muslims their own. Even atheists have a faith system, though getting one to admit it is like pulling teeth.

So why is it that people who have no faith spend so much time lecturing people of faith how they need to conduct that faith? So you're going to tell me who I can worship, how I'm supposed to worship Him, what worship standards are acceptable to YOU? I don't go into a Baptist church and start prophesying in tongues. I don't march into a synagogue and demand everyone bend their knee to Jesus. Don't tell me you've read a bible and then tell me what Christianity is, when you have no concept of the Spirit of God working miracle after miracle in your life, when you have no appreciation or idea of the life that I find in these words and promises from a Being beyond  all our comprehension.

And then I see people screaming at each other on Facebook these hate-filled, ignorant memes, heaving vitriol at each other across the aisle.

Whatever happened to civil discourse?

Maybe it's just me, but our world has grown less kind in the last thirty or so years. What do we do to fix it?

I'm open to suggestions.