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What Osama could have learned from Reggae...

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Dallas Boyd
Dallas Boyd

I did not find out about the murder of Osama Bin Laden with the rest of the world because I was at a reggae concert in the Caribbean. Trying to fit into the culture, but you know, I can never quite melt into the crowd when I look like a peanut in a box of raisins. Differences within the world, between people... they just are.
"I wanna see everyone put their hands in the air if they have a bible in their house" shouted the dreadlocked singer to the crowd. I threw up my goats - inappropriately. There were no goats to be thrown up. This was not the white trash angst-fuelled rock event I'm used to. The singer belted out a crowd favourite: "Let me give you some love and affection." Pure love.
Despite the good vibes I couldn't avoid certain unfortunate truths - the reality of a poor community with social problems. "It´s breaking me down" confided a woman who´d been robbed often. "I wasn´t going to come out tonight, because a girl got shot three nights ago, but you know, you see what the vibe´s like... We don´t want the cops to stop us from lighting up a joint on the beach but..." But no one wants to be robbed and shot. Two nights before, when I was driving to the Caribbean, passing through another town at about 1 a.m., I was informed by my chirpy passenger, "this is the ghetto. The real ghetto. Where 12 year olds have guns." (Which was then followed by, "ooo can we stop somewhere so I can take a piss?")
I know that there are people in the world who stand up within troubled communities with a hate cry and a hand gun. They incite resentment, violence and opression. So it inspires me that, probably affected by similar frustrations with life - but drastically different attitudes - there are other people in the world who instead choose to stand up within troubled communities with a melody and a microphone. They sing about making positive changes, loving their wives, gratitude and peace.
The singer at the reggae concert had called out, "it´s great to see you all here tonight enjoying the music, but don´t forget the most important thing about the music, is the message." The message. Like "you can kill a man but you can´t kill an idea..." That is what I thought when I learned that Osama Bin Laden had been shot and I watched Americans celebrate on T.V. as if something more than an old mortal man had been killed. As if they thought they had defeated an icon or a metaphor. As if reggae would have died with Bob Marley.
Almost home from the Caribbean, we stopped in to visit a friend who had recently escaped death after been attacked by a madman with a machete. Despite his family being advised to organize a cemetary plot for him, he´d miraculously survived. He showed me the deep wounds the thick machete blade had cleaved into his skull, his arms, his face, his back. I could not fatham the mental illness that could cause somebody to attack another human being like this for no reason. Leaving him with chronic migraines and what deeper, invisible scars? Yet that didn´t seem to matter to my friend. "I forgive him" he said. Sincerely, serenely. "God is good. I forgive the man who did this to me."
Could we all not afford a little more grace and forgiveness in this world?

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