peace v. change

Is there an inherent contradiction between being at peace and wanting the world to change? All evidence seems to point to one irrefutable answer: yes. Indeed, given all of the pain and injustice in our world, it is easy to feel as though being at peace is some sort of denial. We might even go so far as to say that being at peace is irresponsible, far more the result of apathy or ignorance than wisdom. But is this always so?

Over the course of millennia, contemplative traditions have engaged with the idea of detachment from the world. For many of them, there is profound spiritual value in seeking inner peace over external involvement in the world. Yet at the same time, many of the world's contemplatives are actively engaged in justice struggles. Take the Dalai Lama, who throughout his lifetime has been unwavering both in his celebration of peace as well as his calls for justice for the people of Tibet. Or Thich Nhat Hanh, whose experiences during the Vietnam War propelled him to affirm the connections between inner tranquility and anti-war efforts. For these contemplatives, and countless others around the world, peace is a branch of social and environmental justice. Equally, social and environmental justice are a branch of peace.

I am intrigued by the relationship between inner peace and outer change, which is sometimes very clear and at other times not clear at all. My music is propelled by a sincere and lifelong interest in this relationship. I wonder what might emerge if we experience tranquility and rousing calls for change at the same time, in the same song. My songs, therefore, are undergirded by a question: what are the philosophical, psychological, social and cultural transformations that may come about if we, just for a moment, entertain the possibility that serenity and engaged activism are not opposed after all?