“Darkness does not dispel darkness; only light can do that”
Martin Luther King
Friday night I was watching the news from France, horrified and shocked; my mother was already in bed, and she asked from her room what was going on. And while I tried to describe her the horror, I found myself in tears, unable to stop, therefore scaring her because she thought I maybe knew someone of the victims.
But that was not the case, I was not crying for that motive: it was the overwhelming twist of a state that is so completely normal to me, so familiar to be almost a routine in my life, attending a rock show, turned into a malevolent, evil situation. Being at a concert, and dying in a dark corner in the midst of many strangers, yours and their blood blending together, because… Because.
I’m not saying that dying in the street, or in a bar or at a restaurant or at a soccer game is in any way less horrific, of course. But as I was there listening to the journalist who was reporting appalled that the hostages were killed inside the arena one by one, I just started to think to all the moments I myself have been in that crowd, friends spread out all over the building, someone at the bar, someone in the front row, someone who is late still driving in the parking, others at the merchandising ogling the price of the t-shirts. If music has been part of your life for many many years, you can be at a particular show with just your friends or partner, but in the crowd you’ll recognize lots of buddies sharing your passion, and the more the years, the more the friends.
As I said, it’s a ritual, that we all share. We start with just one or two things, and with the time we firm up the details: the obsessive choice of the t-shirt to wear, the sandwiches and the beer, or we could just have a pizza over there, is it outside or can we neglect the sweater, do not forget the tickets, bring your pills, choose a right cd for the travel, try to study in advance the parking situation. Things that we – I – have been doing for a lifetime, that I have done last Saturday for a local band, that I’ll be doing tomorrow night for the rock band of a dear friend, that I’ll be doing next Saturday for Bob Dylan; and after an hour, ending your life like this, executed point blank like a dog. That’s the thing that is driving me crazy. But not a crazy form of rage, not only, at least: it’s disbelief, anguish, sadness. Too much sadness, thinking to all those boys and girls killed, to the people who was there for work, or just walking in the streets of a wonderful city. My heart is full of sadness, but not hatred, no I’m sorry, not hatred, not yet.
A few days ago I finished a book on the remarkable, tragic history of the survivors of the Andes aircraft crash in 1972. In one real poignant moment, one of the boys is tending one of his friends, who is fatally injured, and is trying not to give in to despair. The wounded boy sees his distress, and says:” Do not cry, calm yourself. I am at peace, you know why? Because even in this place, our lives have meaning. Our suffering is not for nothing. Even if we are trapped here forever, we can love our families, and each other as long as we live. Even in this place, our lives are worth living, because we love”.
And I think this is the only sane answer in a moment like this. In any case, it’s the only answer I want to have. I’ll go on with my life, and I’ll go to my rock shows, and music, especially Bruce music, will lift me up, and will give sense and meaning to my life. I will cry, I’ll probably cry a lot, and I will not forget what happened, but I will not open my heart to hatred. Maybe it’s not too much, in a way: but it has to be enough.