I never thought that in my lifetime I would see an opera house in Kuwait. This might seem bizarre to some people who are reading this, but though Kuwait was thriving in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, somewhere along the way, we hit the pause button. We can blame it on fundamentalism, but the truth is that the only thing to blame is passivity. But, somehow, the opening of the Jaber Al-Ahmed Cultural Center brought us hope. It reminded me of The Sound of Music, when Captain Von Trapp finally rescinded his ban against music thanks to Maria. Well, Maria is now in Kuwait! And how apt that one of Bocelli’s choices for the opening was a song titled Maria! Yes, Maria came to this country to remind us that music can unite us; music has no dogma, no scripture, no notion of race and that is perhaps what makes it so threatening to people who cannot grasp the concept of universality and are stuck in ideologies that polarize. But, something has shifted. For too long, we had to travel to attend concerts and operas, until we realized that our country was stagnating and our collective inner voice began to sing within us. And it sings even louder now with the opening of Kuwait Opera House: The desert is alive with the sound of music.
One amazing thing I learned from the Sound of Music was how Maria loved Von Trapp even when he was rigid and dogmatic, for she fell in love with his possibility. She saw beneath his fear of life and his pain which he inflicted on others. Perhaps we can learn a lot from her. Or, perhaps we are here to honor what unites us and bridge the divide between liberals and conservatives by loving one another and working together to allow all of us to thrive according to our whims and inclinations. Each side lives in utter fear of annihilation, so perhaps even this is an invitation to show one another that life can embrace the call to prayer and a song that uplifts us; life can embrace short dishdashas and long beards as well as short skirts and long hair. And even though conservatives and liberals may be averse to one another at times, somewhere within is a realm that accepts all. A realm that knows there was, is and will never be any separation between you and me.
Nejoud Al Yagout – Photo by Djinane Alsuwayeh
By Nejoud Al-Yagout