Belonging: Go on and wave your flag

I wonder if any of us can imagine what our lives would be like–and perhaps more to the point–what our outlooks on life would be if as children we had grown up in a civil-war torn country, seen three of our 12 year old friends killed by a teenage soldier as well as many other atrocities while fleeing our homeland for a foreign refuge.  Our imaginations might lead us to pretty sad, even horrific conclusions about what kind of human beings we might be.

From time to time our son has shared a song with me.  So far, he’s 100%.  That is, when he has shared a song with me, it’s always been really powerful–clearly a song with a message that spoke deeply to him and which also moved me deeply.  I am horrible at words, titles and authors of music, so sometimes I have to try and describe the song, and he reminds me of the title and music.

One of those songs a few years ago was “Wavin’ Flag” by K’naan.  K’naan is a Somali born musician and poet, born into a family of poets and artists who had to flee his country when an adolescent for Canada.  He actually lived through those experiences I described above and worse.  “Wavin’ Flag” was  his single hit that brought him to fame, chosen by Coca-Cola as its theme song as a sponsor of the 2010 FIFA world soccer cup.  I invite you to view and listen to this celebration of belonging.

When I get older, I will be stronger,
They’ll call me freedom, just like a wavin’ flag,
And then it goes back, and then it goes back,
And then it goes back

And everybody will be singing it
And you and I will be singing it
And we all will be singing it.

This is what the human spirit does AFTER we go down deep into our souls where all of the pain and the beauty reside.  We bring it up and turn it into a celebration–just as K’naan has done.

And everybody will be singing it.  And you and I will be singing it.  And we will all be singing it.

That’s the dance.  That’s the song.  That’s the poetry.  That’s the beauty that comes out of the pain–if we dare go look.  This man dared go look into what has to be some of the deadliest, ugliest pain in human experience.  From it, he invites us into this celebration of belonging.  He invites us to do the same.

Bob Patrick


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