Ben Langhinrichs

December, 2003
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Civility in critiquing the ideas of others is no vice. Rudeness in defending your own ideas is no virtue.


Mon 22 Dec 2003, 11:54 PM
In our Notes community, there have been a number of discordant notes this week.  As Ed Brill pointed out, Turtle has posted a rant on the Gonzo Lotusphere site, Mike has posted a somewhat negative poll, and, on the Gold forums, Julian has posted a wish list which has generated a few downer responses.

So, given this, why was I so reminded of the Notes community when I had the pleasure of attending a concert at Severance Hall tonight with my wife and two sons?

It was a beautiful concert featuring the incredible Burning River Brass and the elegant refurbished pipe organ.  In the Christmas season there was another feature, a sing-a-long on a few seasonal favorites.

Now, those of you who know Severance Hall or have heard the world renowned Cleveland Orchestra on the radio will appreciate the beauty and acoustic resonance of the place.  Those, hopefully many fewer of you, who know me well, know that I am pretty close to tone deaf.  In a family of musicians, I can't carry a tune and my singing is a bit scary.  Nonetheless, as a PK (preacher's kid), I learned that you make up in volume what you lack in ability.

So, figuring that even aside from me, there must have been quite a few in that hall who lacked musical training, one might cringe to think of the possible results of this massive sing-a-long.  Yet those who, like me, grew up in a church, knew something different.  A thousand voices lifted in O Come All Ye Faithful make a wonderful sound, even if there are many individual discordant notes.  There is a reason, I am convinced, and it is more than the good singers drowning out the bad singers.  The reason is, people care.

So, in our Notes community, here have been those discordant notes, off-key perhaps from what Ed or Alan would want to hear just before Lotusphere, but the overall song is not harmed by those notes.  Not because they are invalid or unimportant, which they are not.  Not because the rest of us who feel more enthusiastic about the present and future of Notes outshout them, because we cannot.  No, because sometimes the sound of a song is not harmed by those singing a slightly different key, when the caring transcends the cadence.  Turtle and Mike and Julian and Morten and others care about Notes, or they wouldn't be chiming in.  What I learned in church long ago as a child and now try to remember in our lives today is that the biggest threat to the glory of a hymn is not those who sing off-key or whose voices crack, but those who are silent.

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