Need to change the mood

The truce that temporarily stops the rockets from Gaza and Israeli ripostes has eased the tension which we have endured in the last few weeks. War, unrest, terror and violence are still raging in the Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, They have bearings on our longings for a peacful tomorrow. Still, my ears are no more riveted to news broadcasts. I watched a ballet rendering of Mozart’s Great Mass by the Gewandhaus Orchestra and Opera dancers of Leipzig that lifted my spirits. The choreography created figures and movements suggesting the liturgical elements of the Mass. I marveled about the beauty and intelligence the human mind could create. I also listened to songs by Jacques Brel. One of them entitled “Il nous faut regarder – We must look” carries a hope that the gifts of peace lay behind dark skies.

“Beyond the concert
Of sobs and tears
And cries of anger
From scared men,
Beyond the din
Of streets and worksites,
Of alarm sirens,
Of troopers swearing
Louder than children
Who tell stories of wars
And louder than the adults
Who made us wage them,

We must listen to
The bird in the depths of the woods,
The murmur of summer,
The blood rising inside you,
Mothers’ lullabies,
Children’s prayers,
And the sound of the earth
Falling sweetly asleep.”

You can listen to the song at
and read the lyrics with an English translation at

The song was recorded in 1954 when memories of World War II were still vivid, the Korean war was just over, the French were fighting in Indochina. The defeat in Dien Bien Phu was about to end their colonial rule. Unfortunately, the sweet days promised in the song have remained promises. Wars and terror still shatter the lives of people and nations: Algeria, Vietnam, North Ireland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Chili, Argentina, Kashmir, Africa, Afghanistan, Iraq-Iran, . . ., with millions of deaths.
Despite this dismal list of conflicts, let us side with Francis Fukuyama’s view that fanatism and despotism are reducible traits of mankind. In his book “The end of history” he assesses that competitive drive will endeavor toward constructive excellence fulfilling the material and spiritual needs of mankind. This may be the future that Jacques Brel forshadows in his song.

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