Harmony Exists in Many Forms

Harmony Exists in Many Forms March 26, 2018

When I use the word harmony to describe what we are trying to achieve in my community organization, people often imagine an idyllic version of that, for instance, the beautiful resonance produced by the Vienna Boys’ Choir singing a classical work of art. Knowing about that inclination, I go on to explain that even though a choir image might represent our ultimate societal goal, punk rock bands and experimental jazz quintets also create their own unique versions of harmony. We should not dismiss any effort.

In the Ear of The Listener

Everyone knows the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” A similar statement could be made about music, as in, “Harmony is in the ear of the listener.” What may sound beautiful to one person will probably sound like utter rubbish to another. That is why we have so many types of music available. Music appreciation is subjective.

Subjective and Varied

If we put those two ideas together, we see that the concept of harmony in music is both subjective and varied. The same can be said about human harmony. What feels okay to one person may not feel okay to another (subjectivity) and there are stages of harmony in human relations that we can all understand (variety).

Harmony is Also Relative

To add another variable, harmony is also relative. Moving from physical violence to verbal hostilities, for example, can be seen as a step in the direction of human harmony, whereas moving from cooperation to a state of argumentative agitation is a step away from it. The same action, dueling with words, can be seen as either a positive step or a negative step based on the preceding activities.

Nuanced Concept

Even if we only take into account the variables of variety, subjectivity, and relativity, it is easy to see the nuanced nature of harmony. Yes, it would be great if we could all sit around the campfire and sing Kumbaya in complete fellowship with each other, but sometimes the mere act of ceasing hostilities feels like a larger step towards harmony than friendly camaraderie because of the impact it makes.

To give you another example of nuance, sometimes irritation may arise in a cooperative environment, but just like a discordant note in a jazz song may temporarily disturb the listener, we may find that once it is expressed and resolved the irritation may have contributed to the overall harmony.

A Varied Playlist

The point I am making is a simple one. When you hear the word harmony, think about it like a varied playlist from all genres rather than your favorite piece of classical music. We may be working towards a more peaceful and harmonious society together, but it may not always look like what we imagined. As long as we are moving in the right direction, that’s okay.

Gudjon Bergmann
Interfaith Minister, Author, and Speaker
Founder of Harmony Interfaith Initiative

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter

Pictures: Pixabay.com CC0 License

"Who is it that is really "yelling and screaming" for change? The usual suspects: the ..."

Change Must Come From Within
"A good post, and good advice. Thanks"

Why You Want Your Meditation Teacher ..."
"your post doesn't make any sense. how are we not a nation of aspirational values?"

The Hardening of America
"But the Fairness Doctrine only applied to broadcast and not to cable, which is where ..."

The Hardening of America

Browse Our Archives

Close Ad