(LifeSiteNews) –– Music can tell you how moral a nation is, according to the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius. Imagine, then, using music to elevate the downtrodden and imprisoned, and offering an alternative to the popular music in our society.
My old friend Eric Genuis does just that. He takes world-class musicians around the world to play his music in places like prisons and schools to uplift and elevate and offer an alternative to the “belittling” music so rampant in our society. He joins me today on this episode of the John-Henry Westen Show.
While he admits that he receives some criticism for what he does, Genuis tells me “My thought is, ‘Okay, if you’re hurt by crime, I get it. We all are, to a certain degree at a certain level. So let’s do something about it. Go and tutor a child in the inner city school that has no father, that has a mother, [that] leaves them or … is struggling with addiction, so the children are … kind of ostracized or they’re just kind of neglected. Go and help … Go and be part of the solution. We’re all part of the solution.’”
“So I’ve thrown my life at taking world-class soloists and going into rehab centers and inner city schools and prisons throughout the world … and tried to elevate their humanity and … remind them of who they are as people with profound dignity that we all have that we can’t lose,” he continued.
Genuis further stated that the elevation that he tries to bring people through his music comes from one thing – the fact that we are made in the Image of God, something that can only be understood in the context of prayer and the sacraments.
“When I look at [my work and the suffering I’ve gone through] and I think, you know, that … being in front of our Lord in the Eucharist through adoration, Our Lord is the source of healing, He’s the source of joy, He’s the source of meaning, He’s the source of purpose, He’s the source of definition, He’s the source of identity,” Genuis told me.
“So if you’re looking for any of those things in your life, and you’re sort of frazzled and you’re lost and you feel like, ‘What is the point of all this? And I don’t know if I can endure …’ And so I sometimes just go before Him and I just stare at the tabernacle, or if it’s … adoration … I just stare at Him, and I just say, ‘Lord, I know you’re there. I’m here, and I’m very distracted, but I’m giving you all I’ve got right now,’ and I just stare at Him,” he continued.
Genuis, elaborating on the connection between his faith and work, explained to me that what he does is not about legacy, or about his name in lights. To him, it’s a matter of using the talents that God gave him to help those around him. “I just wanted to be able to look at God for that split second and say, ‘You gave me a great gift,’ and I want to be able to look at God and say, ‘I didn’t always get it right, but I tried to be as generous as possible with those who are broken,’” he said.
He further explained that he views using his talents to help the downtrodden and forgotten as a mission from God. “God didn’t give me the fight of politics,” he explained. “He didn’t give me the fight of … the debt of the country or the inflation of the nation or anything like that. … He didn’t even give me the fight to go and heal the people in prison. He just said, ‘Go and play for them, that’s all. Go and bring them hope [with] the gifts I gave you.’”
“My goal is to bring the gifts that I have and to play for all those that are broken. But I do have another goal, and that is to really connect with the world and sort of give them the vision of beauty,” he added.
Referring to Confucius, Genuis pointed out that the Chinese philosopher “thought music was so influential that it affects everything about who we are and how we look at life. Well … he said … if you want to govern a nation, you don’t need the laws, you need the music.”
According to Genuis, most music being produced today is not just “belittling” but also formational to children in our society.
“And to our third graders, it’s not funny, it’s formation,” he stressed. “And they’re getting those messages over and over and over again. So the video games they’re playing that are … filled with pornography and filled with violence and filth. And that sort of masterful combination of the two that really sort of gets them hooked. That’s their formation. They’re learning how to look at life, they’re learning how to look at themselves, they’re learning how to look at women, they’re learning how to look at their future … And that cynicism and pessimism that maybe is presented to them at such a young age takes over.”
“That’s what I’m trying to fight,” said Genuis. “I’m not going to sit back and complain. I’m going into their schools, I’m playing as much as possible and I’m bringing them excitement.”
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