Friday, October 11, 2013

The Benefit of Dissonance

So earlier I tweeted this: “As one with Anabaptist colored beliefs, I benefit from never lacking in ppl who disagree with me... Blog post coming on?

Soooo I figured I’d follow up on it J

Here was my fully fleshed out thought and I shall call it “The benefit of dissonance”

Face the music
One of my favorite things in life is music. It has been a staple of my reality since I can remember. I grew up with my father playing in Tejano bands and as a young boy I’d go to his gigs. As soon as I could, I began playing percussion in school. This led me from concert band to jazz and rock in middle school and on to marching drum corps style percussion in high school. After roughly 9 years of playing drums, I decided to broaden my horizons and pick up guitar; this was mostly out of boredom. There is much more I could say about my musical past, but what I specifically want to say is that I was steeped in music as a child and have remained immersed ever since.

Through my more formal encounters with music, I have learned a lot about the mechanics of what usually sounds so organic. It is paradoxically beautiful. One of the most beautiful things that I have learned is that sometimes the most interesting, moving and absolutely incredible moments in music happen when there is dissonance. Yes. Dissonance.

What is dissonance, you say? Dissonance is that moment in music in which the tones seem to fight each other; almost as if they both want to occupy the same space and thus clash leaving both notes with less than all of the space. It is discord. It is harshness of sound. Chaos and longing. Unsettled.
Dissonance can be the most awkward and off-putting part of music when done accidentally. 

Fortunately, many brilliant minds throughout the history of man have harnessed the inspired power of dissonance and have learned how to position it in such a way that it communicates truth about our lives. This is doable because the truth about our lives is that it is unsettling. It is unruly. It is: dissonant.

What makes our lives dissonant?
Conflict. By and large, over and against all things, conflict is the one thing that creates tension in our lives. What is incredible about conflict is that, like music, it can lead to some of the most incredible revelations we have yet to experience.

Conflict pushes us; it drives us. It is the thing that necessitates evolving our world views and our societies. Conflict is of God because it is creative.

Tragically, conflict – thanks to man – is fallen. It is bent; twisted; perverse.

And so the conflict that we see ravage our world is one that reflects the brokenness of the Kingdom of Darkness as opposed to its intended reflection of God’s creative glory.

But, like our human condition and like the cleverest of lies, there is a nugget of truth; a fragment of God’s intended reality remains.

There is this funny thing that comes of conflict: resolution. It is the same with dissonant music, it resolves. It settles and somehow, on the other side, we’re changed. We’ve grown; we’ve evolved.

I submit that the beauty, the creativity and the nuanced divine purpose of conflict is the fact that we are stretched, pressed and molded into a different person in some way. That is why I welcome arguments. Now, I should be clear: I don’t mean fruitless squabbles over petty opinions – this is foolish. I mean well-informed, well-argued and well-reasoned positions being held up next to each other by mutually respectful people in order to examine wherein truth might lay.

This was the idea behind my tweet. As a person who has what I like to term as “Anabaptist-colored beliefs”, it never fails that I find myself surrounded by Evangelical Christians who see my world-view as ludicrous or out of touch with the realities of America (which I find ironic).
However, I call this a benefit; even a blessing. Because through these discussions, I find myself either more convinced of the beliefs I hold or (at the very least) I find a different perspective for examining issues that I have already hashed over in my mind.

What a trip
The reality is that we’re all on a journey – even if you don’t realize it. We’re all that devilish red loading bar that sits on your screen or the spinning blue wheel of frustration that mocks you while waiting for a YouTube video to load. We’re in process.

Once we grasp this concept, grace extended and grace received seems to make more sense.
That is, when I realize that I don’t have it all figured out, that my beliefs (though I am undoubtedly convinced of them) really could be completely shifted, I finally find the capacity to acknowledge people as also on the journey.

As such, we should be charitable to each other in all things and in all situations consider others as in process like ourselves.

What we should not do is avoid the conflict or dissonance that will happen when you spend time with people. This is where we develop. This is where we purge ourselves of biases and false pretenses. This is why we need each other – why the human animal is a social creature. It’s in our nature.

A hope
It is my hope and prayer that we embrace the dissonance. That we reach out to connect, rub shoulders with and wrestle with those who disagree with us. In these relationships we can find growth. We can find the true purpose of conflict. We can find beauty and music.

Let us conflict so that we may reconcile. Let us cause friction that we may be polished. Let us clash so that we may belong to each other.

Thanks for reading,

The Dread

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