Valerie Joy, Queensland Regional Meeting

We have all heard of Doctors without Borders, and also Engineers of the same ilk, but I was surprised to hear there is an international organisation called Musicians without Borders (MWB). Started by Laura Hassler, who lives in The Netherlands, they quote the composer Paul Hindemith: ‘People who make music together cannot be enemies’.

Laura was brought to Australia by the Australian Society of Music Educators as a keynote speaker at their annual conference, which this year took place at the Gold Coast. MWB works in many countries including war torn areas of the former Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland and Palestine-Israel. Explaining her work at a small gathering in my home in Brisbane, Laura reminded us that the rational side of the brain is not useful when it comes to negotiating peace: we have to turn to our right hemispheres. Our early patterning in listening to and making music is largely an untapped tool. The first music we hear is often a lullaby sung by our mothers to us in our cradles – simple, tuneful music which brings comfort and relaxation.

We had expected her to use peace songs, but instead Laura uses folk songs of the country she is in and deftly introduces songs of ‘the enemy’ – which are forbidden officially. Simple sounds such as rubbing one’s hands together can help people damaged by war to relax. An MWB worker is quoted as saying ‘Our aim is to give. We create music from silence!’ and ‘At the end nothing makes me happier than seeing a smile on an oppressed child’s face’. Laura has supporters from around the world including Thich Nhat Hanh.

Musicians without Borders sing aloud the song of peace. I applaud their work and ask you to support them however you can (Thich Nhat Hanh).

Sister Chan Khong writes ‘During the Vietnam war, our teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, I and many friends in the Buddhist Peace Delegation in Paris worked closely with Alfred Hassler for peace in our country and in the world. Laura Hassler now continues the work of her father in her own way, through Musicians without Borders. With music, she and her many musician colleagues work to remove barriers from the hearts of those who are still caught in division, pain and hatred. I gladly add my name to those who support the mission and work of Musicians without Borders’.

Funding is provided just by donations from around the globe. See their website at www. If you are interested Laura will put you on their newsletter email list, so you can keep up to date with the progress of this profoundly moving development in active peacemaking.

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