It’s the morning after an audience of more than 150 people came to the great mansion now called Ellison Bay Manor to enjoy a concert of chamber music, savor hors d’oerves and wine, and tour the building and grounds. I played a very small role in that event, handing out programs and pouring wine.
And this morning, I consider all of the human effort that must come together to form a single event such as this.
First a huge contingent of artisans and craftsmen must come together to build a house large enough to hold several hundred people – no, before that they must cut the trees, mine the iron, quarry the stone, carve a space out of the wilderness to set the home, then assemble the home.
Three talented men need to compose patterns of music that are pleasing to the ear. Five musicians must study and practice, each of them for years, to gain the ability to interpret a fragment of those patterns and blend their efforts to recreate the sounds that the composers heard. Food must be grown – plants and animals – shipped from miles away, processed and prepared in a way that is pleasing to the palate.
Transportation must be arranged to bring people to the door, because this was built as a home and the driveway has limited parking space – wait! A team must build each of the machines that transport us all, each machine itself comprised of many parts, each of which had to be crafted.
Thousands of people working in consort, and each contributing the talent and effort of their years of experience, to do their bit to bring a bit of beauty to the world, a bit of happiness to other people’s lives.
You might say it’s a miracle to bring that many people together to accomplish all this, or you might say it’s simply (simply! This great complicated organism cannot be described simply) the nature of humanity to work together on tasks that a single one of us could not achieve on their own, but to which each of us can contribute a unique, essential piece.
I consider the years and years that each and every one of the hundreds of people in that house brought to their contribution – and how that scene is repeated daily in thousands of place, thousands of events, individuals and teams creating beauty and utility and service for thousands of others, building something special with every breath –
And then I emerge from that place and hear the talk of poison gases and measured conversations about how many bombs are appropriate to be dropped in retaliation for the retaliation against the retaliation that began with the retaliation, and I am shocked and confused that this near-miraculous everyday creation of beauty and service is interrupted so often by similar forces marshalled to tear it all back to pieces.
Why? What leads men and women capable of building great works to tear down instead? Minds and hands work together to create unspeakable beauty. Similar minds and hands work together to wreak unspeakable horror.
We choose each day to work to create or to destroy, to encourage or to disparage. We must find a way to promote and protect the creators and to keep the destroyers in check.
Cross posted to Door County Advocate