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The Bliss Blog

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I grew up immersed in the music of Rogers and Hammerstein. My parents had albums of their creations that included South Pacific, Oklahoma, and Carousel and what a joy it was to sing along with my mom. I watched The King and I and waltzed across the living room floor to the sound of Yul Brynner chanting “1-2-3-and” over and over. I joined Julie Andrews and the Von Trapp kids to the tune of “My Favorite Things” pretending to be afraid of thunder.

One clear memory was listening to a signature song from South Pacific called “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught” and questioning my mom about the meaning. I was likely somewhere around 10 at the time.

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

I wondered why anyone would want to teach their children to hate and fear anyone who was different. She patiently explained that some people were so afraid themselves that they passed it on to their children. Blessedly, my sister and I were taught by example to love, without regard to differences.

A lesser-known creation of the dynamic musical duo was the television version of Cinderella. I watched it multiple times throughout my childhood and likely knew the lyrics to each of the songs. I grimaced at the mean stepmother and stepsisters and smiled with delight at the fairy godmother. I laughed with glee at the transformation undertaken by the main character and swooned as only a teenager can at the handsome prince.  I resonated with the idea that the things we believe are impossible are only as limited as our perception. As an Opti-mystic who sees the world through the eyes of possibility, I know that I can manna-fest my heart’s desires. Impossible?  Things are really happening every day.

Such was it today when I spent the afternoon in my home of Doylestown, PA at an event that celebrated both its 200th anniversary and what would have been the 123rd birthday of Oscar Hammerstein. Held on the grounds of The Oscar Hammerstein Center, I joined folks from the community, sprawled out on the lawn in the bright summer sunshine for the Oscar and Us singalong. Although he was born in New York he spent many of his later years in Doylestown (the heart of Bucks County).

I was enthralled with the stories rendered about the man who had a vision that included unity, peaceful co-existence and mutual acceptance. No wonder that the aforementioned song was so powerful.

A surprise for me was that one of the guests who spoke on peace was Arun Gandhi,  the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. I had the pleasure of sitting down with him in the beautiful living room of the home in which Oscar lived as we chatted about the importance of each person doing their part to make the world a more loving place. His new book is called The Gift of Anger: And Other Lessons From My Grandfather. He steadfastly believes as I do that anger can be a tool or a weapon.

Another treat was meeting Will Hammerstein, his wife Mandee and their adorable little boy named for his ancestor. We played catch with a big yellow ball. He’s got quite an arm. The next round of fun was peekaboo and hiding under the dining room table.

This performance of Do-Re-Mi was filmed by my friend Tom Brunt. These kids did the Von Trapps proud. It was a delight to see my friend Lori Rosolowsky who returned from her new home in Montana and was part of the band.

In the midst of all the turmoil in the world, this day, this experience in the midst of neighbors and friends in an oasis of peace was just the healing balm I needed. I know that none of us will ever walk alone.

 

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