5000 Years of IsolationTheres a fine line in writing between stating fact and expressing opinion. It is an area so vague, so gray, that sometimes even the writer is not able to discriminate which is which, but then one has to ask, is it necessary to point out that difference? Writing at the frequency that I do today is still new to me; is it my responsibility to point out fact from opinion, or is it perhaps the responsibility of the reader to make that discrimination?
My curmudgeon articles discussed some of the problems Ive heard through my years of experience regarding the euphonium. My opinion, which I personally view as fact, was attacked as being unenlightened. Dont you care what people think about you was the reaction of some. Of course I care. Everybody does, but should I confine my writing as calculated to please everyone?
Welcome to the Island
I adore Great Britain; the principal reason being that it is the home of my daughter, Melody! Throughout the millenniums of history on this beautiful green Island, the sea has protected it. However, like any barrier, whether it be water, wall, gate or fortified border, it is sometimes difficult to tell whether its function is protector or prohibitor. That is to ask, has it served primarily as a protection from outside forces or as a prohibitor to the inhabitants from experiencing whats beyond? Certainly, Great Britain has remained the most isolated of the Western European countries; that huge force of nature, the sea, has historically been largely responsible for the present day attitude of isolation and independence that is still very much a part of the British mentality; many Brits still feel the United Kingdom is not part of Europe.
I was not surprised a few days ago when I read in a Reuters column that Britain had been ranked last for Childhood Quality of Life among 21 industrialized, economically advanced nations. The study found Britain Ranked last on the highly important issues of poverty and deprivation, health and safety, relationships, risk-taking, and young people's own sense of well-being.
This was not surprising to me after teaching for a number of years at the Royal Northern Collage of Music in Manchester and having held master classes in venues throughout the country. I have observed proclivities that clearly correlate with that list, namely a lack of interest and curiosity and a seeming absence of musical passion that I have not encountered in any other country.
Now as a teacher, a musician, and a student of national behavioral tendencies I am frustrated at my inability to understand the origin of these tendencies. Is it just that island isolationism extended into our modern life? Perhaps if I could better understand this problem of complacency I could better envision a solution.
Yesterday Melody, who has lived here for 11 years, told me that sometime this year she is planning to move back to Southern California; Im glad, one reason being she will be a lot closer to me in Tokyo.
Roger - London, February 19, 2007
Coming soon: please read Island Passion