The second single from "Little World" is officially out tomorrow, May 11th!
We are only two weeks away from the release of "Little World" and you can pre-order the album and special gifts here.
When I wrote “Refugee,” I was imagining what it might be like for a Syrian refugee trying to come into the US at the time of the travel ban in early 2017. I want to acknowledge that I am a privileged, white American and I cannot possibly know what this situation would actually be like. I have never experienced discrimination based upon my religion, my country of origin, or the color of my skin. But, in an act of solidarity, I chose to write this song, striving to touch the experience of being turned away because “you are the bad ones…”
In each verse, I dance between the voice of the refugee and my own, including here the experience of someone bearing witness and all the feelings of helplessness that can come with that as we search for a way to serve.
In this, the song touches on the theme of equanimity and working to break cycles of violence by practicing love and compassion for all.
As human beings, our default tendency is often to react with aggression, driven by fear or a feeling of being threatened. I feel that the practice of non-violence depends on coming to terms with this habitual pull within ourselves.
Practicing equanimity, love and compassion for all is not about condoning harmful behavior. In fact, I have found that in putting myself in this mindset, I feel a little less helpless and a little more able to speak out. Because, I deeply believe that we can change and I think that those who cause harm are suffering themselves.
So, in naming the wrongs I see while also coming from equanimity and compassion, I becomes more able to hold humanity to our highest potential and find other ways to serve (like writing songs about it) rather than adding to the cycle of aggression.
Thus, the third voice that comes in at the end of the song is a bit like a warning – showing the reasoning that leads to harmful actions. Perhaps, this is the reasoning for the travel ban, for wanting to build a wall etcetera, etcetera. It is a warning for us all in that I think we need to look at the subtle ways our own actions can so easily become driven by the belief that…
“To be human, you better learn to abuse/or you’re gonna be used/so you better do what you’ve got to do to survive/and if he hurts the one you love/you better hurt him back/or the attack is gonna come around/worse next time/”
If we are locked in this mindset, it is difficult to extend ourselves to others beyond our own comfort and beliefs. If we are stuck here, there will always be disagreement and fear which leads to violence and aggression.
The song ends with my own voice again:
“That’s why I’m hiding here in the dark/'cause the world breaks my heart when I go outside/We’ve got to stop hiding from the lights of the stage/For how else are we gonna raise our voice up high.”
What can we do in all of this? We can practice equanimity and compassion and work with our own tendencies towards aggression, thus breaking the cycle.
We can raise up our eyes and stand in solidary. We can call out the harm we see being caused and hold human beings to their – our – highest potential.
This song breaks my heart every time I sing it.
Because it’s real.
We are in the trenches of all of this, right now.
Will you stand with me?
In Love and Gratitude,