Tribe House Blog
Defending Human Rights and U2 concerts
Posted : May 16th, 2012 by Norm Strauss
Cindy Snedden and her husband Mike are house concert hosts for Kelowna in assocation with HomeRoutes.ca, a national house concert network based in Winnipeg. The Sneddens regularly host professional Canadian music artists in thier home for a night of inspiring songs and conversation, all in the interest of creating community and supporting great music. My kind of folks. I met the Sneddens for the first time over coffee about 6 months ago to discuss the possibilities of creating a small network here in the Okanagan for home concerts. Then, a few weeks ago Cindy told me that she had been asked by the Kelowna Baha'i Community to help bring awareness to the oppression of the Bha'i community in Iran and to religious oppression in general. Not too long ago I had written and recorded a song about the Arab Spring called 'Play God' and so the subject of oppression, particularly in the Arab world had been rolling around in me for awhile. Because TribeHouse is about creating discussion on the subjects of faith, art and justice we invited Cindy to be a guest blogger for this week. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome my friend Cindy Snedden.
It’s almost a year since we took our family to the U2 Concert in Edmonton. We had ‘floor’ tickets so we lined up early to be near the stage. While we were waiting a well-trained and well-supplied army of young, cool volunteers were signing up fans electronically for the ONE campaign, giving out wristbands to those who signed, and having us enroll to receive Amnesty International emails. In addition to this impressively organized effort, 10 minutes of the concert were devoted to a personal video address from Burma’s pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi made especially for U2 fans. Bono even gave a shout-out to the people of Slave Lake who had just a week before, suffered the second most costly natural disaster in Canadian history.
I was happy that the money that thousands of us around the world had spent on tickets wasn’t going entirely to enrich the musicians (even though it is U2 – they deserve to be rich), buy a ridiculously elaborate (and amazing) stage and pay for the many, many semi-trailers in the parking lot together with the diesel bill and road crew of each. It was neat that we were invited to be part of something much bigger than the coolest rock and roll show of all time. But the questions have rung for a year… does it matter that I signed that petition? Does it help? To make a difference where should I have sent the significant amount of money it cost us to buy the tickets and get the family to Edmonton and back? What did I actually sign based on Bono’s endorsement without really reading it? Do I agree with it? Is this what we’ve come to – that fundamental Human Rights
issues have become a side-show to rampantly materialistic pursuits? Is U2 dignifying these issues or using them? Are they sincere? Am I?
In a country like Canada the fact that we can take our rights for granted is a gorgeous thing. It frees us to broaden our skills, improve our employment prospects, beautify our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces and communities, get fit, play sports, visit with friends, learn to cook, paint or play music, enjoy concerts in the park, worship (or not, as we choose) and find ways to reduce our environmental impact. I believe those who have died for our freedoms would want us to enjoy them and use them well; we must be grateful and not guilty. So I say, God Bless Bono and the members of U2 for staying together, making beautiful and profound music for decades, using their fame to defend the defenseless and for creating the wonderful, exciting, absurd 360° concert experience that made me think a little harder about these questions.
But the questions have continued to ring because obviously going to a U2 concert is awesome, but not enough. Going forward I intend to follow U2’s example more closely. Though the number and scale of issues and abuses can be overwhelming, it does matter that I inform myself and use at least some of my freedom, creativity, skills, time, and money to show in peaceful and persistent ways, from my place in the body of humankind, “I care.”
Last month I was asked by my faith community to organize a public event in Kelowna in defense of the Bahá'ís in Iran, to advertise it widely and to invite local dignitaries. The systematic persecution of the Bahá'ís in Iran is an issue that is receiving a growing amount of international attention from well-known leaders such as Bishop Desmond Tutu and Senator Romeo Dallaire.
On behalf of the Bahá'í Community of Kelowna, I invite you to attend a brief information session on May 26th from 2:30 – 3:30 pm at the UBCO Ballroom UNC200 to learn more and find out what you can do. Our friends in Iran inspire us every day and we believe their story will inspire you, too. The event will also include the personal stories of Central Okanagan citizens, a brief talk by MLA Norm Letnick and the screening of the powerful short film, “Education Under Fire”. Whether or not you can attend we invite you to learn more through our companion website at http://faithandsacrifice.org. We sincerely believe that large numbers of people around the world being informed about the issues and making whatever statements they can to say, “I care” will make a difference.
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