Is singing trauma cathartic?

Bambi worked today listening to her favourite internet radio station from Los Angeles, called Radio Mount Lebanon.

A community radio station with much music and no advertisement. From time to time, they have shows with entertainers located in Dubai. They interview artists from Lebanon.

They are a truly inclusive radio (not in the politically correct sense). For instance, today is the Eid. They highlighted it. By the way, Bambi would like to wish “Eid Mubarak” to all her friends in Canada, Lebanon, and everywhere! They also celebrate catholic or orthodox Easter, Virgin Mary month, etc. Really not much, just a few sentences, or songs, here and there.

Sometimes, we can guess the original political preference of some entertainers. Very rarely yet regularly, they play songs from war. Every time Bambi listens to one, she spontaneously turns her volume down. She has never been into this particular political side, let’s say. Perhaps she also does not want to awaken the ghost of war in her memories…

This being said, Bambi has always thought that, in a long civil war, fighters from all sides had blood on their hands but they are victims of their times, especially younger people. They all loved “their” Lebanon in their own ways. So, she does not have resentment or residual anger toward anyone.

She is saying the above, even if she has witnessed scenes of horror more than once in their neighbourhood, like her sisters. Her family lost close loved ones (like so many people). Plus, one cousin got injured in his school and lost his best friend. In addition, some of her neighbours were kidnapped. Some even killed by people from the “other side”. During the last year of civil war, the fights became more fratricidal… These are Bambi’s last memories before immigration.

Anyhow, this post is not to talk about these memories but about what do with them. Specifically, a guest on today’s show is a renown actor, Mr. Badih Abou Chakra:

One of the topics discussed was his war-related artistic concert (in addition to being an architect and an actor, he sings to!).

To put things into perspective, Lebanon does not teach the recent civil war in its official curriculum yet, it seems. However, Mr. Abou Chakra, took a professional risk for a project that meant a lot to him. He decided to compile all the war songs (of all sides!) and put them into a concert in Beirut. Most, if not, all of his colleagues discouraged him from doing so. They thought it may be risky because war may have not ended in 1990… perhaps it just took a different form. Why the risk?

Well, he believed in his idea, convinced that it would be cathartic. His concert of one night only lasted for two years! He described how people knew the songs of all the sides and started singing with him. At one point, they joked. One table standing up to sing their “own” songs louder. In turn, other tables started the same game and so on. No one fought. All laughed.

The entertainer, Ms. Abir from LA (a pharmacist who volunteers at this community internet radio), told him that she is sorry but, after many decades in the USA where she is happy to live safely, she is still reluctant to listen to war songs.

The artist was very thoughtful in his reply to her. He explained that for him, it is all about putting oneself in the shoes of others. Seeing the other perspective makes us see more of the truth.

The other entertainer, Mr. Vatché, shared memories of his childhood were young people used to listen to the radio to capture the songs of the other side(s). They knew them by heart, just like their own.

To conclude this post, back to the title’s question: Is singing trauma cathartic? From the reaction of the Lebanese audience, over two years, the answer is obvious. From a clinical psychological perspective, one must confront his/her fears and phobias to overcome anxiety. Ironically, this seems to be out of fashion in Canada nowadays where everyone appears to be “triggered” by something. Our society has become a bit overprotective. Sadly, from time to time, some of those triggered seem to be acting like bullies.

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