May 29th marked the 101st anniversary of the premier of The Rite of Spring, the brilliant musical composition attributed to Igor Stravinsky, and performed by Sergei Diaghilev's - The Ballet Russes Dance Company, in the City of Paris, France of the year 1913.
Two devoted and passionate music lovers were notably absent from the worldwide centennial celebration of this musical masterpiece last year, and tragically they remained missing once again this year. They are Metropolitan Paul Yazigi, and Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim; kidnapped and held in captivity, within the Country of Syria, since late April of 2013.
It is readily known, by the many who care deeply for these two Christian Bishops, of their very deep love of music - as has been expressed daily through the Church - within the Christian Mass; through liturgical chants, multilingual and ancient forms of prayer song, as well as the ritual sounding and ringing of church bells.
This love of music, touched upon above, is but one example of the many virtues and gifts of civility, intelligence, and culture that each of these Bishops possesses; as well as a deep understanding of the challenges collectively faced by all persons - vis à vis the basic human experience within this world; a compassion and a love of humanity that has been greatly missed in the Country of Syria for over a year - as each of these Christian Bishops has a long standing record of working towards peace and understanding across traditional boundaries.
Presently, what has become somewhat striking about this ongoing War in Syria is that this conflict has become less of an upheaval to be associated with historical comparisons - grounded within the etymology of the coined phrase The Arab Spring and more appropriately akin to Igor Stravinsky's seminal classic The Rite of Spring; a musical ballet score based upon a primitive Russian pagan ritual of sacrifice to the gods of Spring, where a maiden is chosen and then tragically - must dance herself to death.
Indeed, this is a war that has unfolded as a two part drama, with a trajectory and an inevitability towards grotesque tragedy - ends that appear to be totally unstoppable by any and all means applied. A war rejected across the globe by countless persons of all nationalities, creeds, and faiths - through consistent calls for peace, as well as by passionate and reasoned outcries against myriad inhumane acts of barbarism: barrel bombings, beatings, summary executions, gang rapes, beheadings, and the public display of executed corpses 'crucifixion style' in public squares - a means of instilling fear and terror within the hearts of the Syrian people. These are but some of the inexplicable and documented horrors of the ongoing War in Syria.
Tragically, this war is not in and of itself 'unresolvable,' nor 'unstoppable;' what is unstoppable are the broader advances of modernism and that are currently taking place across the world. Time and history have become somewhat compressed in places such as Syria. Old regional models, of economies of scale, are being torn down and new models are being erected.
Yet, despite all pronouncements to the contrary, of the intended appearance of reasoned diplomatic communications and negotiations on a wide range of humanitarian considerations and issues within this conflict - coalitions of nation states of the West, facing off against coalitions of nation states of the East, have been playing a deadly form of global economic brinkmanship, in Syria, for a great many years now. A fight for resources, prestige, and global influence in the Ancient Holy Land.
This is a game where the economic and geopolitical interests of the United States, Europe, and Western Allies are constantly probed and pushed for any possible signs of 'planned obsolescence' or weakness by Countries such as Russia, China, and Iran - through local proxies, on a global playing board.
Weaknesses are subsequently exploited along geopolitical fault lines and become plainly and clearly illucidated in countries such as Syria. Old ethnic rivalries arise and quickly turn into violent flashpoints; these divides are subsequently exploited and capitalized upon by powers that be - for military and economic advantage. These outcomes are also the results of a globally unchecked system of competition - where 'might makes right' and global institutions - purpose built to ensure peace and civility, to preserve a threshold of dignity among the collective and weaker people of the world - are thus rendered toothless and ineffectual.
With the re-election of Bashar al-Assad to the Office of President, in the Country of Syria - what we are about to witness is not the end to The Arab Spring in Syria, but the start of the second act of an oblique musical score, of a predictably tragic and unfolding drama.
As a metaphor, The Rite of Spring (in Syria) or Pictures of Pagan Russia - opened to the musical sounds and movements of hope and subsequent false promises - The Adoration the Earth. This was followed by the writhing dances of the displaced and of the suffering, of battles subsequently waged and of the destruction wrought - within the orchestral renderings of The Auguries of Spring. In due course we witnessed The Procession of the Sage, and The Evocation of the Ancestors - all artfully and darkly performed in Syria - similarly, as in the Stravinsky musical ballet classic.
Tragically, the sounds and dance of Stravinsky's Ritual of Abduction have been notionally played and performed as well; via the kidnapping of Metropolitan Paul Yazigi, and of Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim.
Now, it appears that the somewhat surreal musical rythymns of a slow and laboring instrumental crescendo have begun; a dissonant fortissimo - expressed through the tortured cries of interminable human beings in Syria: of helpless men and women - a tragedy danced by the children and by the elderly, by the starving, the wounded, and the sick. Persons rendered hopeless simply because they can do nothing in the face of what appears to be inevitable - the ritual sacrifice of a maiden, the Country of Syria herself.
We know of the eventual finale to Igor Stravinsky's composition and performance The Rite of Spring... however, the final outcome to this War, in the Country of Syria, has yet to be fully determined. Presently, we still have the opportunity to alter the course of events to follow.
Over one hundred years on - the world roundly celebrates the originality and the genius of Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. A musical score that is now understood as representing a clear break with the past, the end of La Belle Époque - the evocation of the primitive and the primal elements of man re-introduced in the context of the modern.
Let us resolve to make a start and to break with the past, as well. Let us begin by simply and collectively demanding the release and safe return of His Eminence Metropolitan Paul Yazigi, and His Eminence Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim. Presently, and in the momentary absence of these Bishops, let us all call for increased and meaningful dialogue: to attain a lasting peace, and for greater human compassion and understanding in the Country of Syria.