Often enough I get the question, "Are you religious?" or "Are you Christian?" My response now is "I'm not conservative, if that's what you're asking," because usually consciously or subconsciously that is what they are inferring. I am a believer of God, that is what I am certain. And after a discussion tonight, I know why I am so deeply rooted to El Sistema.
The above article appeared in my Inbox shortly after that conversation and while the author seems to denigrate Abreu for this role, I condone it. The reason why El Sistema is my Purpose with a capital "P" is because of the spiritual aspect of it. Perhaps I am blasphemous for saying this, but is the purpose of El Sistema, social change, not that which Jesus called us to do? Jesus, the historic man, came to eradicate the empire system and meet people where they're at with the "last shall be first" mentality..Well? Is that not what we're doing with El Sistema? Giving opportunities to those who in other circumstances are "last"? Is El Sistema not the "good news." a gift that anyone can receive? Dare I take it as far as saying I am in a discipleship program that next year will go harmonize people in the songs of music?
But the difference with El Sistema that makes it more meaningful to me than "religion" is the fact that music is a thread of unity. Anyone can relate regardless of their background. Sure, there are different types of music and pedagogies, theories, etc. etc. but everyone has been exposed to music in some way in their lifetime. I challenge you to disprove this. If you do have someone in my mind, I venture to guess you are thinking of "music" in a box of the Western paradigm with specific qualifiers-the same way many people have codified Christians.
So yes, I strive to live a life full of unconditional love, grace, forgiveness, and joy, accepting everyone for who they are, and learning from them. Perhaps these are "Christian" qualities, but I hate that nomenclature because it excludes so many others and infers only Christians contain these. Rather, I am a global learner, learning from all walks of life, and hopefully leading a life that will bring about social change. What that means the community will have to decide.