Where There Is Music
Music can bridge the cultures of the World
 Elsewhere on the Web
• CNN.com coverage

What can one say when words cannot express the deep emotions and thoughts after the tragedies that occurred on September 11, 2001?

There are no words that can bring back lost lives or relax those who are awaiting news about their loved ones. The entire World is focussed on the United States, many of us watching the news and seeing the online coverage while feeling very helpless.

It all reinforces what I have always believed: that we are all people of the World who share the same emotions, feelings, senses and desires. We all love our friends and families; when a tragedy of such a large magnitude occures, all of our thoughts go to our own loved ones and we share that empathy with those who are suffering.

While it is true that a tragedy will unite people of all countries and cultures, we are already united. Music is one way: we listen to music from an ethnic group other than our own, and for a little while we feel as though we are part of that group. The walls come down, and somehow we don't see another culture as being so "other" for a short while.

No doubt there are certain groups that are going to be singled out, blamed, accused. In fact, there already are. Those of us who enjoy World Music should have a problem painting a blanket over one culture, especially if we have ever listened to and enjoyed music from that culture and part of the World.

Music is a bridge that unites all cultures. It breaks down barriers of language, borders, religion and even culture itself. It brings us comfort and helps get us through good and bad times. A life without music is indeed an empty one.

As I sit back and listen to some politically-charged Rai and the spiritual uplift of Sufi devotional songs, my heart will feel towards a race that has been much maligned, misunderstood and abused, to a large extent by different factions within their own people.

I will hear the happy sounds of Klezmer, the haunting voices of Sephardic songs in Ladino and religious songs that are going to be sung during the upcoming Jewish High Holidays, and think about a people who have struggled to exist for thousands of years, but still do. I will think of a tiny, little country that has been receiving attention disproportionate to its size and to the human rights violations that occur in other countries in its immediate vicinity.

I will listen to singer/songwriter music from France, Germany and a host of other countries, knowing that even though I do not always understand the lyrics, each songwriter has something important to say about his or her society. We all have issues about which we feel strongly, and music is a conduit used to reach audiences far and wide.

Where there is music, there are no walls. Where there is music, there is joy. Where there is music, there is hope.