In response to the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, and in recognition of the ongoing American crisis of gun violence, San Diego Pro Arte Voices launched a “Disarm Hate” choral project. Along with Tony Maglione (No More!), Scott Hanna-Weir (The Wound), Justin Murphy-Mancini (3 tainiai), and Gregory Brown (Love (&) Doubt), I contributed my Gandhi-inspired Eye for Eye to this effort, and the pieces were premiered in concert with Pro Arte Voices on May 29, 2017, led by Patrick Walders.
For me personally, Eye for Eye is the result of several seeds, some of which were planted decades ago. I was a Peace Studies major in college (Manchester University), and became immersed in the literature of nonviolence, as well as the history of social movements that utilized techniques of nonviolence. Gandhi’s brave example (and inspiring quotes) have remained within me ever since.
A more-recent “seed” was a worship service we were planning at church in spring 2016, for which we could find no fitting anthem. The theme related to perception and “light” and led me to Matthew 6:22-24: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So then if your eye is clear, so will your whole body be filled with light. But if your eye is not clear, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how deep is that darkness.” I remember that I began to write something at the time, but it didn’t quite coalesce.
In September 2016, Katie Walders reached out with the invitation to be a part of the “Disarm Hate” project, and I immediately jumped in, although I didn’t know exactly what I might write. Then, in the lead-up to the November 2016 elections, as the tensions in the country rose, the seeds of Eye for Eye were ready to “officially” sprout, and the song emerged unexpectedly on the afternoon of November 5th, more or less complete.
Eye for eye and the world goes blind (3x)
And how deep the darkness, and the light nowhere to find.
Life for life and the killing goes on (3x)
And how deep the darkness, like a night without a dawn.
Hate feeds hate in a bitter feast (3x)
And how deep the darkness;
turns humankind into a hungry beast.
Gives us light, that we may see.