Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Matisyahu: Fusion to Uplift

Why do Rastafarians avoid the use of the subject pronoun "me"? Being sensitive to language, they use "I" in all cases because "me" implies a receiver, which means there is a sender. See? But if you believe that there is no separation between yourself and Jah (God) as well as all humanity, then you express this "I and I unification with Jah" by being careful about the words you select. It's a way to remember.

I'm fascinated about how religions mix and incorporate varying aspects of culture into their spiritual expression. And no where is that more apparent than in the Caribbean where aspects of religion can be traced to African, European and the local First People (Indian) population- in Puerto Rico, the original population was Tanio . What is Catholic or Protestant here is not what I knew these to be in the United States. Culture and religion are frameworks for understanding but we can be flexible with these frames if our true purpose is to understand and accept each other. Once we know that 'there are many paths and one goal' which is conscious unification with insert the most comfortable term here: Love, God, Jah, Jehovah, Alla, Rama, Consciousness, Higher Being, Higher Self.... Within this accepting space, we can all say with Bob Marley, "One Love," and feel no conflict. I think that we all must include each other as members of the 'one earth community' so that we can learn to negotiate and put religious fanaticism aside. If we accepted that we are all connected through whatever belief system that feels culturally/religiously right; then we know that we have to work with others who have made different decisions-including the decision of non-belief.

I'm troubled about the situation between the Muslims in Pakistan and the Hindus in India. I'm troubled about the threats and disapproval that most Muslims are experiencing. I'm troubled about the unrest in the Middle East. I want all of us to learn a new way of communicating with each other. If we are to survive as a people, we have to find a way to understand that we are all connected. We must care about each other; it's a question of our survival. The root of our problem is lack of acceptance and intolerance of differences in our belief systems, resulting in insurmountable barriers to trust and negotiation.

A Memory; Separation and Pure Categories

I can clearly see a facial expression in my mind. A disapproving but reserved critic of Caribbean literature and culture was expressing her distaste for Matisyahu because he was ripping off the Rastafarians. She also felt that Bob Marley had become a sellout in the middle and later years of his musical career. She particularly held firm in her belief that his son, Ziggy Marley, was not an authentic Rastafarian. She completely missed the charm of Ziggy's performance when he was singing his father's songs. She didn't value that he was attempting to create something special, to extend his father's tradition into another audience. Maybe it didn't entirely work in a musical sense but it was about more than that- he was finding his way.

Ziggy Marley

Why must we try to keep everyone in their assigned category? Why don't we just get used to the idea that sometimes we are going to be uncomfortable when we can't place others. Not everyone is easily understood. What most people need is encouragement to find their own way, their own true path to spiritual and/or life satisfaction.

And now dear bloggers, it is time for our Fusion musical program

(Are you still with me?):

Close My Eyes Ethiopian Jews

Matisyahu on David Letterman (I'm afraid Dave was unmoved.)

Bob Marley One Love

Ziggy Marley Tomorrow People (Cute!)

And if that one didn't 'catch you' scroll down and fortify yourself by listening to John Lennon's "Imagine," in the Imagining Peaceful Action (2009) posting.
Ziggy photo on flickr


  1. Why is it so difficult for people to love? I enjoyed reading your thoughts. I've been a fan of Bob Marley's for decades. Sorry about your coffee today, Cynthia! You weren't kidding that you were distracted by blogging today. I have a headache from blogging - and it's making me dizzy - and my shoulder hurts! Can this really be good for us?!! Ha ha! But I want you to know that I read every word of your post because...you wrote it and I appreciate your thoughts.
    Happy New Year to you!

  2. Thank you Catherine for your encouragement! And I am sorry that I started laughing when you said you had a headache from blogging and that it was making you dizzy; I was really laughing at myself-honest. I too have a headache...and dizzy? I think that's my usual state!

  3. What a truly moving post! It seems that there is so much trouble and strife in the world, doesn't it just seem so easy, the answer is love. If only it were that easy! Thank you for the incredible post and for your comment on Fragonard! You made me laugh, I had to go back & look at those faces! Maybe they weren't as cute as us back then or maybe he flunked his how to paint a realistic face course! You reminded me that I heard once that Fragonard would paint his own face on one of the male subjects in every painting, interesting!?!
    I hope you have a beautiful day filled with love!
    Much love from my direction!

  4. One Love is one of my favorite songs of all time. I always felt I could serve as the national anthem for all the Caribbean. As a Puerto Rican I can tell you that our definitions of race and faith have a intriguing transparency. We Caribbean people are luminous like our sun. We give out may shades, many facets. We are morphs, we are chameleons. Our people had to endure colonialism, slavery and a stifled caste system. We had to hide our gods from persecution by the powers that be. We had to survive spirituallly in islands scorched by the heat and ripped off of their natural wealth by hurricanes. So to better understand the people of the Caribbean you must remember that our sense of race and faith is a blurred one. Superimposed might be a better word for it. So artists like Bob Marley and Matisyahu (even though the latter is not from the Caribbean)are better understood in terms of their superimposed layers of beliefs and appereance. It is fusion but it is also something else, it is transformation of the purest kind.

  5. Judith, Thank your for reading my rant all the way through. I do get troubled from time to time. On my side, I'm all for practing unconditional love but it is complicated.
    BTW I wonder if the Fragonard faces were true to life? Maybe he painted the 'look' that he thought was the most appealing? That fits with the self-portrait idea.

    TPC, glad you found your way back to OWL. And thanks for providing all that information on the history and culture of the Caribbean. Maybe we could start a movement and call "One Love" the Caribbean National Anthem. Then when there is a battle between the Puerto Rican 'del mar y el sol' song and the United States 'Oh say can you see' ("Oh Jose, can you see" W says, we could stand up and sing "ONE LOVE".

    Tomorrow, we're going with OWL to the beach! So check out the new post.

  6. HD Diva, glad to please...are we a minority? I'm suffering from a bit of "depressive comment deprivation.That's a blogger's psychological condition that will soon be researched and studied by a new PhD candidate.

  7. Wow, on my previous comment about a month ago, the comment that never was posted becausde I didn't know how to do, I spoke about the complicated culture of Puerto rico, I agree wholeheartedly with the pink cowboy, our sense of race and religion is opaque, it's not clear, if you're not from the caribbean or have lived there, it will be difficult to explain, well like Obama says he's a mutt, most caribbeans are mutts in both race and religion

  8. hey oasis, you have learned a lot about blogging. how did you learn how to place a link in the writings, that's great. I tried to go into the jamaica kindcaid blog and I wasn't able to do it. I would like to read some of it as well,
    I loved the pink cowboy's comment, it's so dramatic, he is also a writer.

  9. Daphne, Yes, TPC is a writer! The Kincaid blog is not open to the public but I can add you to the list if you want to read some of that.


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