Harmony, theology and fashion

Harmony, theology and fashion

Pop music is a good barometer of the culture of the times. The subject matter of music addresses current opportunities and anxieties while the style reflects the harmony, or lack of it, that pervades relationships. Small wonder, then, that today’s pop music is cacophonous, repetitive, noisy and driven. Senseless beat is guaranteed to create senseless audiences. Today we lack harmony on a scale we have not seen for a very long time.

Pop music is not causing disharmony, simply reflecting it. But it does not help it. Dining recently with two young ladies in their early thirties I was astonished to discover that they were deafer than me, and I am 50 years older than either of them. They promised me they had not been clubbing, a widely acknowledged source of hearing loss. Their poor ears were the result of today’s normal clatter and bang of social intercourse. When not purely physical it is often reflected as written in the social media – disharmony.

Media offerings have landed us with violence and pornography that logically cannot be good ways to promote decent behaviour. Courtesy as a practice has been almost totally lost in western society; the east is going the same way rather quickly, too. True, real life is often violent and media must somewhat reflect reality. But when they portray excess as a new norm it does a disservice for which there is no effective counterbalance.

Business has been revealed as collusive and dishonest on a scale the average consumer had never suspected before. Wrong sort of harmony there. Bank fines that, since the 2008 financial crisis have reached almost US$219bn, pose only the question ‘who will pay them?’ We know the answer, of course. You and I. It makes us angry.

Terrorist events of the last few weeks have caused world leaders, including Putin, to reconsider their relationships with each other and to contemplate harmonised response to the unconscionable atrocities being perpetrated in the name of freedom. The crusades were violent but they were not equipped with the weapons we have today. In but a few years WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) have become WTD (Weapons of Total Destruction).

Those readying the antidote to nerve gas realise how far down that track we have already travelled. Nuclear drones, the new war horses, are being built on a frightening scale. They may never be used but, as recently pointed out by his colleagues to the leader of the British Labour Party, threats are only successful if you are prepared to use them.

Meanwhile the radicalisation process is being little understood and even less remedied. A wise Muslim Elder said yesterday that rethinking must come from within the Muslim community. Very true, but I suspect the radicalisation we see today is more than theological. It is a socio-economic revolution that owes its expression as much to the fashion of violence as to the dictates of belief. The violence we have up to now described as lunatic is already being played out at territorial borders to stop the migrants from entering.

Call it war, call it self-defence, when the dam has broken it is too late to debate new methods of construction. Action has to be swift, concerted and determined or the ensuing flood will engulf everyone.

It’s not a nice thought but it is the only practical one.