Every Monday evening on the way home from work, I pass the community policing center (otherwise known as the police station) on NE 47th and Burnside. There, as I wait for the light to change, I hear bagpipes. It has been this way for years. Some bagpiper has convinced the police station that s/he could use its rooftop parking lot after hours to march around and practice. It makes sense that a bagpiper would find it difficult to locate a place to practice. Anyway, no matter how I’m feeling, it does my heart good to hear music played loudly, well, and outdoors.
And of course, I love the bagpipes. I still remember the first time I heard bagpipes playing Amazing Grace. I lived, fittingly, in Scotland at the time. I was eleven years old, and my mother was having a great time finding music and bringing it home. She put this recording on, and not only did I get chills when all the bagpipes joined the first, but I started to weep. I think my crying comes from the same place as my tears during the climax of Witness when the Amish villagers come over the rise to rescue Harrison Ford from the corrupt, murderous police; or in V is for Vendetta when the masses march on parliament all dressed like Guy Fawkes. It has something to do with people joined in a common purpose, people saying somehow, “We, joined, are more powerful than the evil that has set itself against us.”
I will not pretend to be any sort of expert on the struggles going on around the world right now in Syria or Turkey or in other climes. But I think art exists in part to point toward the heroic even when it emerges amidst chaos and violence. There certainly is an amazing grace to doing what one feels is right even in the face of possible extermination.
Give it a listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0syjecXN_no