In discussing the New Orleans Jazz Music Festival I often talked about how we are all humans, and all individuals are responsible for their actions, some good, some bad. If we are to judge each other we will only go as far as the weatherman tells us to go, but there is so much more that goes into human action than meets the eye. It is unfortunate that so many people in the Jazz community feel the need to justify the Jazz Festival as a social experiment or political correctness run amok. Because it is not.
Jazz, like all music, is a form of expression, and yet, the underlying message in Jazz is that we all come together in the same spirit. Indeed, we all have one thing in common. We can't all get along, we must forgive each other and move on. If we want to judge a book by its cover or our neighbor by his actions, then we live in a fake society. It is not necessary to tell the truth, and if someone is doing something they don't do in a nice way, it doesn't make it okay.
We must remember that there is an underlying message in Jazz. It is a message of brotherhood and love. Those who judge others based on what they wear, what they say or what they do in their own private space are committing an act of religious intolerance, which is un-American. If we are going to live in peace, then we shouldn't be living in hate.
It is easy to become an intolerant person when you're surrounded by those who share your beliefs and who agree with you. So don't judge a book by its cover, or a man by his behavior. We all know there are bad people in this world and we all deserve to be judged by God. Jazz teaches us to judge people by their actions and words and not by the cover of the book they were wearing or by what they wore to church on Sunday. Who are we to judge a man by the cover of his Jazz shoes?
Jazz does more than tell you that it's okay to be yourself. It tells you that you can look at other people's actions and words and still decide who you are. It is possible to be true to yourself while being true to others as well. If you find that you are making yourself feel uncomfortable, then you can look at the people around you and decide which people you want to be around. If you can't look yourself in the mirror, you don't have to be dishonest, because you're lying to yourself, and that's not okay.
What good will come out of telling yourself that you aren't perfect and that you are okay just the way you are? If there is any truth to that, then how could you possibly judge anyone else? You can't! When you judge others by what they do or don't do you are only telling lies about your own actions, and when you tell yourself that you are okay, you are lying to yourself, and that's not okay.
So, what kind of a man would you rather be if you found out that you couldn't tell the truth about anything? That wouldn't be me; I'd rather be honest. I'd rather be a real man and live my life authentically, then try to pass it off as something that it isn't. Don't you think that when a man is honest enough to give an explanation for what he did, he is being honest? I'm not saying that a man should hold back from his wife, kids or partner- he should have no inhibitions about sharing everything with them.
Who are we to judge a man by the cover of his jazz shoe? Not me- I'd say that man is the one who has the responsibility to make sure that everyone who walks into his life knows that he is a good and honest man. The shoe is just one detail of who he is, but not the whole story. We need to learn to accept all men for who they are and if a shoe doesn't help us do that, then we need to move on. Jazz shoes don't hold a man's feet together forever; in fact, they are a one way ticket to addiction.