The Sound of Silence

A nation without music, is a nation without a soul

June 5, 2023

Edited October 23, 2023

Nomadic Music

I was listening to "Un Nomade dans l'Oreille" on ICI MUSIQUE and learned that the Taliban had outlawed music in Afghanistan. I could not believe my ears (pun intended.) Seriously? They have taken away the right to listen to music, make music, or own musical instruments. "Under the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the use of musical instruments and singing is prohibited, and possessing instruments is considered a crime." - Source: Toronto Star

Tinariwen’s members are Tuaregs, an ethnic group from all across the Sahara desert. They’re nomads who lay down musical rather than physical roots, and their music follows a rich Tuareg lyrical tradition -- gone electric. But although the Tinariwen feel at home wherever they are on stage, some of the communities in which they perform extend hostility rather than hospitality.

This is beyond tragic. From a person whose life has literally been saved by music, I can't imagine what a music-less life must be like. I have music playing in my home sometimes 24hrs a day - no joke. I usually sleep with music on. I only turn off the music when I need to make a phone call. Otherwise, it's on all the time. And it's not TOP 40 stuff. It's a wonderful blend of all kinds of music from every corner of the world. I tune into ICI MUSIQUE on 100.7 and CBC MUSIC on 93.5. Those are the only two channels I need. I used to plug into my iPhone and listen to playlists I had created, but strangely, I have outgrown this and prefer to have the music surprise me as well as enjoy the company of the wonderful disc jockeys who are so knowledgeable. But, back to these poor Afghans! I still cannot believe these authoritarian regimes can impose such laws. Music is as much a part of life as language, food, air, water, and love. It's an ingredient that nourishes the soul and enriches lives. It creates environments for peace, celebration, reminiscing, creating, thriving, being happy or sad, melancholy, joy, excitement, dancing, and singing. All of these experiences matter. I can't imagine how cold and lonely living without music must be. The Taliban themselves must be soul-less to not only impose this but live it as well. We all know they are barbarians, but even barbarians surely must have to indulge in some pleasures. However, I don't think they are secretly listening to music while they try to prohibit others from listening or making music - or maybe they are! Their souls, if they have any, are filled with pure blackness, darkness, and evil.

Prison MP3s viewed from outer space

Imagine there's no countries

As I was writing this chapter, I began to wonder, are prisoners here in North America allowed to listen to music? A quick Google search revealed that they can, but it is controlled and limited. "Inmates are permitted to spend up to 60 minutes per day in the music folio, although there is a maximum of 15 minutes per session, and only 30 songs can be previewed daily. "

- Source: Prison Life in America: MP3 Players.

So, it's clear that music is considered a luxury or pleasure that, when removed or censored, can be considered a form of psychological torture. As North Americans, despite whatever 1st world problems we have to deal with, we cannot imagine what life is like for billions living under dreadful conditions. Why has the human race evolved into different facets? We are divided into beings that live in the light or the dark, and maybe some in the grey. Some of us enjoy freedom every day to be, do, and say what we want without the risk of persecution. At the same time, others live in fear that they may be brutally beaten and abused just for listening to music. It's mind-boggling. The world has evolved and devolved at the same time. It's incredible to think just how much people suffer due to religion, ideology, or the confines of a country's borders. Sadly, when taken to the extreme, religion leads to suffering, both by the victims and perpetrators of acts of persecution and violence. And as far as borders go, they are man-made and are just constructs meant to separate one clan from another. There is no such thing as borders, as has been mentioned by astronauts when viewing planet Earth from outer space. But, in nature, many animals live within borders or areas that they have laid claim to and fiercely defend, so I suppose we are programmed to delineate territory somewhere deep inside our DNA. But this notion of imagining a world without borders or religion is nothing new. John Lennon's Imagine captures it perfectly:


"Imagine there's no countries

It isn't hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace


Imagine – John Lennon

Thank you, Canada

Quite the philosopher he was. The lyrics are so simple yet so profound. Those few sentences and the melody matter. They mean something. Something that the Taliban vehemently oppose. It's rather sad when you think about how twisted the human mind can get if it is shaped by darkness from a very young age. I think of myself, and so many others, who have been compromised and handicapped by poor health, and how I have so depended on the care and kindness of people to survive; what must it be like to be deprived of this when you are unwell? I think of poor sick Afghans who need care and attention, yet instead, they are made to suffer even more due to the Taliban's heartless sanctions. As a Canadian, I'm proud to say we are among the most civilized nations on earth. With all my health issues, living in Canada has proven to be a Godsend for me. The healthcare system is far from perfect, but it has been there for me, and at little to no out-of-pocket cost. Yes, we pay a lot of tax, but I say it's worth it - not worrying about paying for medical bills like uninsured Americans do and going bankrupt is something I appreciate. 

And, on that note, I'll leave you with "The Sound of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel.

Written by Patrick Franc - a.k.a. Your Friendly Neighborhood Bionic Man

The Sound of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel

Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams, I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
'Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light, I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never shared
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

"Fools" said I, "You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you"
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
Then the sign said, "The words on the prophets are written on the subway walls
In tenement halls"
And whispered in the sound of silence


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