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I’ve just finished spending the last two days working in the studio with a very dear childhood friend, helping her to record some of her original songs. Every moment I spent with her was a gift.

When she and I took breaks from our work, the turmoil that spilled over from Charlottesville into the world weighed heavily on our non-musical conversation, and on our hearts.

To say that all sides are to blame for the violence might be true in a very literal sense – people on all sides of this ideological divide were throwing real, bloody, physical punches – but to blame them all equally strikes me as myopic and knee-jerk, and revealing of a profound misunderstanding.

In human interaction, it seems that there are two choices – conversation and violence. Conversation can take time. Violence can be perpetrated in just seconds. Conversation can fail, and violence can dominate. Self-defense, both with words and with violence, is sometimes terribly necessary.

These last two days, while I did the work that I love, I kept coming back to this: The right answer to hatred is compassion. Though it is hard, I want to take this love I have of making music and point it in every possible direction. I want to open my heart and bear witness to another’s anger and fear, no matter their ideology, and to *really* hear what is being said. Yes, I will fail, over and over again. Yes, I will sometimes succumb to my own anger and fear and impatience and misunderstanding. It takes longer – much longer – than to compose a tweet or write a song or live a lifetime – but little by little, doing the difficult work of loving other human beings, especially the ones with whom I disagree the strongest, is the only hope for peace.

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