Politics As Usual

If you found something wonderful, and you were a good generous person, would you keep it to yourself or would you share it with others?

This profound principle is underneath all spiritual teaching. Generosity is a key ingredient in spirituality, regardless of whether or not one is religious. It is very hard to be a truly spiritual person and also be greedy and selfish.

If you look at what is typically called “character” and take in all the qualities that define what we would label “characteristics” most of them are timeless. They only take place over a period of time.

Loyality, perseverence, dedication, patience, honesty, generosity, kindness, truthfulness, endurance — all of these are only really evident over time. A “one time only” experience could just be a fluke. If, however, you are someone who is known to inhabit these qualities, then it would also be obvious that they are part of “who you are” or of your character.

Jealousy and envy of others is detrimental to those who harbor those feelings. In fact, any negative emotion held over time will eat away at you until it literally makes you sick. Negative feelings, especially about other people, are not only a waste of energy and time, they are literally time bombs if they continue to hang around. These two emotions assume that another person’s success is going to do you harm. It assumes that what others have you cannot also have. It also assumes that it’s good to be suspicious of others because they might be doing somethat could harm you. All of this is very sad.

Sharing something is a choice. Sharing information is not a requirement. Anyone who shares what he or she has learned through life experience, study and investigation is offering it as a gift. There is no real dollar value on life experience, but sometimes people do get paid for sharing the information because in our society that is one way we can balance the scales. It isn’t enough, sometimes, to say a simple “thank you” so paying for it is a convenient way to offer something in return. In my case, I choose to share what I know because I worked hard to learn it and want to help young singers to benefit from my experience. It seemed to me that my path was rather arduous and I hope that sharing what I have learned might help some seeker to have a slightly shorter, slightly easier path to the same goal……..wonderful singing.

Everyone is free to reject what I or others like me share out of a desire to be generous. Everyone can decide they do not need or want the information. People who stand in the way of allowing the information to go out, however, are a different breed. Those who block the flow of the information are afraid that it will harm them if it goes out to others who do not have it. They fear it will perhaps reflect badly on them because they don’t themselves have similar information to offer. People who deliberately present obstacles to block the flow of information out into the community are concerned with things other than the information itself.

The profession of teaching singing is fraught with individuals offering all manner of nonsense and “magic solutions” and, oddly, many of those individuals are free to sell whatever it is they have without opposition. In fact, many people think it is a mark of knowledge to have stuff to sell and that selling it is a sign of great success. The people who are less well-known but sometimes far more successful are cause for suspicion and fear and are often blocked in the profession just because they are successful. Crazy, but absolutely true.

Politics, meaning taking care of your own reputation by doing what is expedient for you, rather than looking at the greater good of the profession at large, is nothing new. Oren Brown, one of the great singing teachers of all time, was treated like dirt in both NATS and ASHA for most of his career because he was so far ahead of his peers. It didn’t stop him from finally becoming an internationally recognized expert who was revered for his contributions and he never let the opposition get to him, but it is a mark against the profession that the very people who stopped him from offering his expertise to the larger population of teachers of singing were themselves not particularly talented as teachers or singers. They resented Oren because of their own inadequacy. It was politics as usual with those folks.

That will likely never change.

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2 thoughts on “Politics As Usual”

  1. Thank you for this reminder, Jeannie. We all need to reframe ourselves to the fact that there is more than enough to go around.

  2. Glad you are back and blogging! I missed your words. This writing is extra special for me as I try to adjust to a place where my knowledge is “worthless” because it didn’t happen here, where everybody knows everybody and just repeat someone elses mistakes. Bitter, yes a bit, but I also remind myself that I can change that, one singer at a time and that is why I am here in Sweden. I love reading your blog entries as it reminds me that one must stand for something good and for sharing what has been given. There is plenty for all of us. Please keep writing!
    All the best!

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