When I use the word harmony to describe what we are trying to achieve here at Harmony Interfaith Initiative, people often imagine an idyllic version of that, for instance, the beautiful resonance produced by the Vienna Boys’ Choir singing a classical work of art.
Knowing about that tendency, I go on to explain that even though the choir image might represent our aspirational goal for a harmonious society, punk rock bands and experimental jazz quintets also create their own unique versions of harmony, which is why we should not dismiss any effort in the social context.
In the Ear of the Listener
Everyone knows the saying, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” A similar statement could be made about music, as in, “harmony is in the ear of the listener.” What may sound beautifully to one person will probably sound like utter rubbish to another, which is why there are so many types of music. Music appreciation is subjective.
Subjective and Varied
If we put those two ideas together, we see that the concept of harmony in music is both subjective and varied. The same can be said about human harmony. What feels okay to one person may not feel okay to another (subjectivity) and there are stages of harmony in human relations that we can all understand (variety).
Harmony is Also Relative
To add another variable, harmony is also relative. For instance, moving from physical violence to verbal hostilities is a step in the direction of human harmony, whereas moving from cooperation to a state of oral arguments is a step away from it. The same action, dueling with words, can be seen as either a positive step in the right direction or a negative step away from harmony based on the preceding activities.
Even if we only take into account the variables of variety, subjectivity and relativity, it is easy to see the nuanced nature of harmony. Yes, it would be great if we could all sit around the campfire and sing Kumbaya in complete fellowship with each other, but sometimes the mere act of ceasing hostilities between longstanding enemies feels like a larger step towards harmony than friendly camaraderie between those who are already acquainted because of the impact it makes.
To give another example of nuance, sometimes irritation may arise in a cooperative environment, but just like a discordant note in a jazz song may temporarily disturb the listener, we may find that once it is expressed and resolved, the irritation may have contributed to the overall harmony.
A Varied Playlist
The point I am making is a simple one. When you hear the word harmony, think about it like a varied playlist from all genres rather than your favorite piece of classical music. The truth is that harmony exists in many forms.
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Our Vision and Primary Goals
We are an educational and social good interfaith organization. We provide people with access to strategies, methods, and ideas that promote social harmony and enable bridge-building across divides. We use the term interfaith broadly to mean 'a strong belief in someone or something' and focus on improving interrelations between people who have different worldviews. Our primary goals are to remind people of our shared humanity and to support new and ongoing efforts.
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©Harmony Interfaith Initiative
Registered in Hays County, Texas
Founded in 2018
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