The current circumstances that grip our nation are too serious to avoid.
Our Take: Sadness, Outrage and Concern
We have tried mightily to steer clear of politics or ethical issues in this column. Our goal has always been to entertain, share some insights about jazz and, hopefully, inform, even if our information bordered on the trivial. We have no special skills or training to go beyond that scope, nor are we self-indulgent to the point where we believe that our opinions carry weight or deserve recognition. But, the current circumstances that grip our nation are too serious to avoid. At this point, such avoidance would only give support to those seeking to minimize the tragedies. Therefore, with apologies to no one, we have something to say.
COVID–19 has infected our lives, our prosperity and our ability to take care of each other. Its origin is still under debate, but, up until a few months ago, it was either non-existent or dormant in some manner. The effects of this virus are horrendous and it is unclear how or when this burden will be lifted and we can return to what most of us consider to be normal life.
The death of George Floyd is not an outbreak. Instead, it is the most recent chapter of excessive and deadly force used to suppress a black man in the United States. This story begins almost 400 years ago and, to the extent that improvements have been achieved, they are too few, too costly and too many remain unresolved, thereby undermining the fabric of what our society is supposed to be. I have always felt shame for anyone espousing bigotry and racial prejudice. But, now, I feel shame for anyone who is not actively fighting for respect, inclusion and equality.
“As a producer of jazz events, we can say, with pride, that the world of jazz may be the best example of people of all backgrounds, races, religions and gender working together for a common goal.”
The art of bigotry has advanced. Code words and circuitous procedures have replaced the more blatant forms of racial hatred. Stricter voting rules, which at first glance appear to have the ring of truth, have been exposed as simply a way to suppress voting among minorities. “Law and order” is a euphemism for controlling thoughts and ideas and an excuse to muzzle protests. In no way, do we support violence, looting or setting buildings and police cars on fire. Last week, this column returned to 1968 for a brief moment. We are still there this week, as the scenes in our major cities remind us of what happened in Los Angeles and Detroit in the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Fifty years later, we are fighting the same fight.
COVID–19 is being minimized as the act of one man in Wuhan who ate the wrong thing. You could marginalize the current racial strife as the response to a single action by a very bad policeman. In both settings, these actions could have been “quarantined,” and dealt with swiftly and decidedly. Though there would still be great harm, the proper reaction would have made each tragedy far less devastating. Instead, these events revealed our weaknesses and our faults. We were not prepared for COVID-19 and, rather than admit that fact, many pretended it was not as serious as it is. Hubris, callousness and fear gave rise to the world’s worst response to the pandemic.
The response to the death of George Floyd was far more predictable, and in that sense, far more insidious. In this case, we simply pulled the curtain open and the hatred and bigotry that is always on stage, ready to perform, was in full view. This time, the purpose of the performance is to gain political advantages. Making the world one side against the other works when you only need 51% to justify your position. The goal should be to fight for control so that you can implement good or advance the development of a consensus. Unfortunately the fight for control too often becomes the centerpiece in and of itself.
How do we climb out of this abyss? We need leaders who follow proper moral compasses, rather than the latest polling numbers. We do not see any at this time. No one, on either side of the aisle or either side of this fight, seems willing and able to sustain the battle. Yes, there is outrage, some constructive, some otherwise, but raising an issue is not resolving an issue. That is where the hard work begins. Those who fear such change simply wait for the rest of us to move on to another subject. How many children have to be killed in schools before we stand up and get the guns, for instance. We search for a hero, while our results remain zero.
How did this happen? When did the United States become Arabia in the old days, a country artificially configured as one state, but, in truth, a gathering of small groups, tribes, one issue associations, special interests and sects? No one listens to others. No one walks in the other’s shoes. No one has compassion for others.
The burning, the hatred, the strife and the fighting are often the hallmarks of an end-of-the-world apocalypse movie. Those movies are fiction. We are in the midst of a documentary in real time.
As a producer of jazz events, we can say, with pride, that the world of jazz may be the best example of people of all backgrounds, races, religions and gender working together for a common goal. You have talent. You have something to say. You fit in. In fact, you do not need talent or something to say to fit in. You just have to appreciate the process and the end result. Our doors are open to all.
I feel sadness, outrage and concern. This is becoming overwhelming. Which is why I cherish our music, the amazing musicians who make it happen and the fans who love it. Play on.
Our Take is written by Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director of The Jazz Cruise, The Smooth Jazz Cruise and Blue Note at Sea. Feel free to express your views or pose questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
🎶 8 DAYS THAT WEEK 🎶 The Jazz Cruise ’22 – More Jazz Than Ever!
We are excited about 8 DAYS at SEA on The Jazz Cruise ’22, but no one is more excited than our longstanding musicians. Kurt Elling, Niki Haris, John Clayton, Shelly Berg, Wycliffe Gordon, Ken Peplowski, Randy Brecker and Lewis Nash are so jazzed about sailing for 8 Days in ’22 that they recorded and mixed a special song in anticipation of the occasion.
Open Booking for the remaining staterooms for The Jazz Cruise ’22 begins on Monday, June 8 (10 a.m. CT). All of the details for the January 13-21, 2022 sailing, including the lineup, itinerary, pricing and stateroom availability, are now live on The Jazz Cruise’s newly updated website.
We hope you check it out and join us for the next sailing of The Greatest Jazz Festival at Sea … with More Jazz Then Ever!
We recognize that it is a long time between now and the sailings of The Jazz Cruise and The Smooth Jazz Cruise in early 2022. But, we have an idea to keep the good times going and the great music playing when the cruises were to sail in 2021.
We have been working with a couple of the top hotels/resorts in Las Vegas on the possibility of back-to-back events that would bring our world-class jazz cruise experiences to the desert. If we can make the seating and concert presentations work, would you be up for 5 days and nights of The Jazz Cruise on land in Vegas, followed by 5 days and nights of The Smooth Jazz Cruise on land in Vegas, both in February 2021?!