Billy Lee 李名信 ( Member US-China Peoples Friendship Assoc.) January 2019

Here are a few very inspiring quotes on Music from Positivethesaurus.Com :

Bono: “ Music can change the world because it can change people. “

Wm. Congrave: “ Music has charms to sooth a savage beast, to soften rocks, and bend a knotted oak. “

Lao Tzu: “ Music is the soul which can be heard by the whole universe. “

Harry Styles: “ Amazing thing about Music, there is a song for every emotion.”

Maria Augusta von Trapp: “ Music, a magic key, opens most tightly closed hearts.”

EdgarWinter: “ Music is very spiritual, it has the power to bring people together.”

Hans Christian Andersen: “ Where words fail. Music speaks.”

I have been doing research informally on friendship, empathy, compassion, and how to connect people – especially children – from around the World.

Few weeks ago, I was introduced to Prof. Andrew Jones ( Director of China Studies at U.C. Berkeley ) who showed me an interesting publication of selected Chinese Children’s Songs. Immediately an idea popped to mind : “ To introduce specially selected songs from different countries to each other may be a wonderful project to promote.”

I tested this idea among a few “usually responsive friends”, and here are few of their very helpful and encouraging responses :

Arthur Gregg:

“We are the world” a song that immediately comes to mind, also Up With People, an International Singing Group in the 1960-70s.  A critique wrote, “Music and social actions create opportunities for youth to develop a better understanding of the world, recognize the responsibilities they have to each other, and become global citizens by acting as positive agents of change.”

Jackson Barkstrom:

I remember the impact, singing 同桌的你 ( You at the same table ) at Qiaoqi Primary, had on me and the other teaching assistants during the 1990 Institute sponsored ACE trip to Shanghai three years ago. We were all near crying or barely holding ourselves together. Then we taught the Chinese kids “You are my sunshine” in our ACE English class, and they loved it. 

Bob Doran:

You have never had a Bad Idea. This one might Sing Globally.

Alice Chiang:

I can see compiling a book of songs for children from many different countries including CDs.  A great way for children to learn about different languages and cultures and make friends with people from different countries.

James Luce:

Once you have collected the appropriate songs, titles, lyrics, and musical scores these can be transmitted to schools, daycare centers, Boy-Girl Scouts and other youth organizations.  Separately, here is a title for your Friendship Movement: C.A.R.E. ( Compassion, Attachments, Relationships, Empathy ) A mosaic without cement is just a pile of pebbles. Friendship is what bonds people together.

Ryan A. Leonard:

Some popular children’s songs share the same melody across languages- for example, the French nursery song ”Frere Jacques” is “Are You Sleeping” in English, and Two Tigers (兩隻老虎) in Chinese. (It’s fun to learn both.)

Fred Gardner:

I don’t mean to be discouraging. I think it’s a great idea, but I wouldn’t expect too much in the way of (automatic) cross-culture benefits from it. (other inducements and facilitations will likely be needed ).

Stephen Smuin:

My idea is a bit different. Take myth stories from other countries and put them on as plays. ( How about Musical Plays based on Myth stories from different countries ? )

Megs Booker:

Start with a two country project. Use Chinese songs as part of 1990 Institute’s Jazz Program in China.  Should contact our friend, Jazz Composer and Pianist, Jon Jang.  <jjang@igc.org>

Fred Pratt:

Your latest idea is neither naive nor all that novel. When I was studying German at the famed graduate language school at Middlebury College (back in the 1960’s), we regularly sang German folk songs (Volkslieder) as a means not only to learn popular and colloquial German, but also as a means of encountering and appreciating a different language and culture. We had a wonderful little book of songs which introduced itself with these words: “Sprich, und du bist mein Mitmensch; Singe, und wir sind Brueder und Schwestern!” This translates easily into English: “Speak, and you are my fellow man (human being); Sing, and we are brothers and sisters!”

At a late age of 86 this year, and not at all competent in media technologies, etc., I realize that such a project needs to be embraced and implemented by younger and more competent enthusiasts – perhaps even visionary academic institutions, multi-national companies and governments which all have convenient global connections. I decided, however, that I should first clarify my own thoughts by writing down a Basic Plan which can be further developed or modified by others later.

Here is my Naïve 4-Step Basic Plan :

  • Step One :   Start with a few International popular songs to set a testing model. The selected songs should have instant emotional impacts as well as long-term memorable qualities. Music or melody generally provides the mood; Lyrics provide Meaning.  Good recording and singing with clear enunciation are essential. Ultimate goal is to generate Personal Joyfulness, Group Bonding, and Cross-cultural Appreciation.
  • Step Two:    In preparing the Package, understanding the indigenous spirit as well as the eventual international appeal require thoughtful translations. Books, CDs and Video are useful tools. Package should be well designed.
  • Step Three:  Distribution to Schools, Boy-Girl Scouts’ camps, Daycare Centers, Youth  and Senior Centers, International and Cultural groups, Libraries, Book Stores, etc. etc..  Engage Educational Institutions, Multi-national Media Companies, and International Governments.
  • Step Four:  Promotions to make sure that Music becomes a more integral part of our Life globally. Have Performers and the Listeners inspire each other! Reach out to all around us! Promote Friendship, Empathy, Compassion. Connect people around the World. Heartily learn and enjoy each other’s most endearing songs.

Notes :   This is an effort in Bridging Heart-To-Heart Across Different Cultures. This is a GLOBAL CHALLENGE PROJECT to my more competent younger friends around the world.




Sometimes the children really get it and adults should listen

A dream by 86 Yr. old retired architect Billy Lee  李名信   July 2018

Share your smile with the world.

It’s a symbol of Friendship and Peace.

Attending the third and final session of  a special ICAF-sponsored FRIENDSHIP WORKSHOP – on July 4th weekend  2015 at the National Mall, Washington DC – twenty-four international teenagers ( 12 boys and 12 girls preselected from 70+ foreign countries ) were buoyant and anxious to summarize what they have learned from the first two days and what inspirations they have gained.  

They learned in the first session how to break ice with strangers from many different cultures. In the second session, they brainstormed on the pros and cons  in making friends – touching on the deep impacts of Wars vs. Peace and Hatred & Suspicion vs Love & Trust. For these teenagers, they simply can not understand why we humans can send a spacecraft to the moon and can make robots play chess, but cannot  learn and teach one another on how to tolerate and befriend  each other.

They decided that sometimes Children must push the Adults on basic ideals. They heard for example that the world’s children in fact played an important role in advancing Environmental Awareness these past few decades. Environmental problems were taken for granted forty some years ago, but today one can not discuss most issues without reference to Environment. This workshop has inspired them to work together and push for greater awareness about the need to promote Friendship world-wide .

Following one of the facilitators’ advice to set a clear goal and write down

their many urgent wishes, the group spontaneously decided to create a “DECLARATION OF INTERDEPENDENCE” on this July 4 Weekend noted for U.S.’s “DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE ”. They further decided that an “INTERNATIONAL CROSS-CULTURAL INSTITUTE ON FRIENDSHIPOLOGY” should be established in order to study this complex matter holistically.

It’s interesting to observe how things progressed during this critical third session. An American girl first proclaimed that  we must emphasize Compassion with Friendliness.  A boy from Brussels said, “we must emphasize Connectedness and Collaboration. A Chinese girl added “ Harmony “.  A Japanese Boy: “Peace”. A German Boy:  “Repentance”. French Girl: “ Forgiveness”.  Indian Girl : “ Fabric Woven with many treads “.  Boy from England :” Nature-Environment”. Boy from Norway : “ Sustainability “.  An African Boy:  “Education for All”. An Arab Girl added: “Equality”.  There were many other suggestions, but one Chinese Boy uttered last: “Don’t forget  the word INTERDEPENCE “.  One of the facilitators also suggested : “Seek Commonality”.

The students google-searched  in teams for ideas and inspiration.

On “TEAM BUILDING” they selected the following graphic pictures:

For FRIENDSHIP BUILDING they selected the following gestures.

Many also liked the Buddhist and  Native American Peace Symbols and this

Picture of a Calumet – Peace Pipe or Friendship Pipe.

Famous quotes that delighted them most were:

  • Share your smile with the world. It’s a symbol of Friendship and Peace.
  • Friends… they cherish one another’s hope and kind to one another’s dreams.
  • The bird a nest, spider a web, and man FRIENDSHIP.
  • A life without a friend is a life without sun.
  • Unity is strength.   L’union fait la force.
  • This is, because that is.  This is not, because that is not.
  • All things come into being through the interaction of various Causes and Conditions.

Their final collective production was this letter below :

Dear Family Members, Teachers, Friends, Government Leaders, and Fellow World Citizens- young and old,

At this 2015 ICAF Global Children’s Festival at Washington D.C., we, the 24 International students representing different countries and cultures around the world, were truly inspired by learning from each other and discovering the following truths :

When we first started with an earnest intention to “get to know each other and to learn from one other”, much curiosity and anxiety existed in us.

By opening up to each other and sharing some heart-felt ideas, feelings, and questions etc., we somehow became closer bonded.

All of us subsequently felt a miraculous desire to build deeper friendships –individually and collectively.                                                                 

We now feel that there is a real need for more and more frequent opportunities for young people around the world to have this kind of enlightening encounters.

We are determined to spread this “Interconnected Spirit and Joy”

when we return to our home countries, and we will nurture the long-term connectedness of this newly bonded group of strangers. 

We want to challenge our adult leaders to give more attention to Friendship Building which has been taken for granted and ignored.                    

We want to urge our adult leaders to focus on world concerns, instead of just national interests, since we are truly interdependent.

We urge for a Global Declaration of Interdependence,  and hope for the creation of an International and Cross-cultural Institute on the study on Friendship or Friendshipology –as soon as possible !

Most sincerely,

Names and signatures of the 24 International Students

( 12 to 14 year olds )

Emphasize More On People’s Goodness

Billy Lee - 李名信 - June 2019

Since retirement from Architectural Practice twenty years ago, I have been doing informal research on Friendship and on Cross-Cultural Person to Person Relationships. It’s quite clear that people mostly relate to each other based on trust and judgements. I have observed that many of my good friends are very cautious yet quick at making harsh judgements.  They do not trust readily and they judge others rather rigidly. These friends come from different cultures – both Eastern and Western. My friends generally try to be nice and friendly, but their cautiousness and their stern deliberations on good vs. bad or right vs. wrong ultimately make real trusting or mutual acceptance difficult if not impossible. I seriously wonder why and how all that became so.

I think it is true that in both Eastern and Western Cultures all parents first try to do their very best to protect and raise their young ones.  I remember my parents always alerted me on various dangerous signs – whether it was sharp metal edges, broken glass, open high-rise windows, not well-behaving playmates, or suspicious-looking people. They tried to protect me from getting hurt myself or being harmed by others by always saying “ Don’t do this. That’s dangerous. Avoid that person. That person is no good .“  “Be Careful.”  While all that seem to be earnest and caring, I suspect their very simplistic teaching without holistic explanations might have caused many children to grow up and assume the worst case in all situations, and size up other people in black or white or in absolute good or evil so very quickly without hesitance.

It may be that the parents realize that the children do not have the time and maturity to quickly analyzed all the complexities in multiple shades, and the potential danger is so alarming that their children best be taught to prepare for the worst situation immediately. In making such quick judgements we also often make permanent negative assumptions on other people’s characters. We developed the tendency to define others definitively and permanently. Condemnations right or wrong always create hatred and bad feelings unfortunately, and our societies generally do not know how to encourage, redemption, or reconciliation.

I think that all parents need to protect their own children but must be careful not to teach them to make quick all black vs all white , all good vs. all evil judgements. Indeed, people in this world are not all good or all bad. Every person has good qualities and misguided qualities. We should acknowledge and promote Goodness in all people.  We should identify Bad Traits and Misdeeds, but should not condemn people totally. As to parents’ teaching their children on how to relate to other children, they should point out why certain behaviors are not good but avoid total character assassination. When you judge certain children Bad and condemn them as permanently Bad, they naturally react defiantly with anger and will behave negatively. If you trust that they have intrinsic goodness in them and can learn how to embrace positive behaviors, I believe that they will embrace you as well for your kindness towards them. Most importantly, you want your own children to become kind and forgiving as well as strong and intelligent.

Recognize people’s Positives as well as Negatives, but emphasize more on People’s Goodness, please !  Cultivate people’s intrinsic Goodness should be our primary goal indeed!