June 16, 2016

R.I.P. Jo Cox – "Unite to fight against the hatred that killed her."

I can't believe that after just four days I have to write another obituary on a wonderful woman shot dead by a maniac with a gun.

Another dark day for us all. Today Labour MP Jo Cox, mother of two little children, was shot and stabbed to death in broad daylight when she left a library in her constituency in Yorkshire. Britain is in shock and the flag on Parliament has been lowered to half-mast. Tributes pour in from all political sides.

Voted into the parliament only a year ago Jo Cox fascinated everyone with her sharp mind, clear cut rhetoric and determined engagement for those in need. As one of the very few in Labour, MP Jo Cox was on the side of the people of Syria, stood up for Aleppo and fought for refugee children to be allowed into Britain. I cannot hail her enough for her unwavering solidarity with the victims of Assad‘s and Russia‘s atrocities in Syria.

Just six weeks ago in parliament, MP Jo Cox held a passionate speech regarding Syria demanding answers from the Minister on many questions still vital and valid today. Watch her speak and be inspired by her determination, her compassion and her energy.

It breaks the heart to know she is gone. But she leaves a legacy that demands from us to fill her place wherever we can and continue on her path of love vs. hate.

Think about the refugee children from Syria who have gone through hell and remember the words of Jo Cox:

Only yesterday, Jo Cox was on the Thames to campaign for Britain to stay in the EU, something she was as passionate about as the children from Syria. Together with her husband Brendan she took her own lovely two little children on the boat ride and it is impossible to comprehend how these two angels will survive that their mother won't ever kiss them again.

The death of Jo Cox is a tragedy on a very personal, family level. – But it is also a tragedy for Britain, losing one of the most energetic and compassionate MPs she had.

It poses question too whether the hate spewing of those, who – like Jo Cox's killer – shouted "Britain First", has not seriously paved the way for the unspeakable crime of today that robbed a young woman of her life, a husband of his wife and two children of their mother.

In his piece A Day of Infamy, Alex Massie today puts the problem in a nutshell:
"We know that even lone lunatics don’t live in a bubble. ... When you encourage rage you cannot then feign surprise when people become enraged. You cannot turn around and say, ‘Mate, you weren’t supposed to take it so seriously. It’s just a game, just a ploy, a strategy for winning votes.’

When you shout BREAKING POINT over and over again, you don’t get to be surprised when someone breaks. ... If you spend days, weeks, months, years telling people they are under threat, that their country has been stolen from them, that they have been betrayed and sold down the river, that their birthright has been pilfered, that their problem is they’re too slow to realise any of this is happening, that their problem is they’re not sufficiently mad as hell, then at some point, in some place, something or someone is going to snap. And then something terrible is going to happen.

We can’t control the weather but, in politics, we can control the climate in which the weather happens. That’s on us, all of us, whatever side of any given argument we happen to be. Today, it feels like we’ve done something terrible to that climate.

I cannot recall ever feeling worse about this country and its politics than is the case right now."

It is time, Britain, to take a deep breath and alter course. The murder of Jo Cox today is a warning sign if ever there was one.

Two hours after Jo Cox was pronounced dead, her husband Brendan issued a statement, saying:
„Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy, and a zest for life that would exhaust most people.

She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn't have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.“

Let‘s honour Jo Cox by fulfilling her wish. It is the least we can and the thing we must do.


June 12, 2016

R.I.P. Christina Grimmie – Sing to the Delight of Angels in the Sky

On Friday night I was performing with a choir and a Shakespeare Company in a wonderful open-air venue in front of an audience that showered us with applause. Today I learn the shocking news that Christina Grimmie (@TheRealGrimmie on twitter) was shot on the same night after her performance in Orlando. While we revelled deep into the night in our bliss of an audience being happy, on the other side of the ocean Christina was killed when she signed autographs after her concert, by a man they presume was a deranged fan. She welcomed him with arms open for a hug – and he responded by shooting her.

I am shattered. I have admired her for years for her voice, her talent and her beautiful, friendly, natural ways, ever since I discovered her doing this amazing duet with Sam Tsui:

It was just a dream

Today, after hearing the news of the death of 22 year old Christina Grimmie, the words develop a haunting tone, speak of sadness and grief over the senseless killing of someone so young, so willing to give beauty to the world, caring for others and sharing her amazing talent with all. No words can describe the devastation to learn that once more beauty is ruthlessly destroyed by a man unable himself to give beauty to this world. And that obtaining guns in America is so easy and once more leads to a horrific shooting.

Many who knew and worked with her have expressed their shock over her killing, saying how heartbroken they are that this beautiful human being has been denied the life she deserved to possess.

Sam Tsui took to music as the only possible way to pay tribute to Christina Grimmie, unable to put into words the grief that fills the heart.

It was just a dream

We say: R.I.P. Christina. But in our soul we know that you never wanted to rest in peace but sing forever to fill homes, halls and the sky.

When we performed last night once more Shakespeare and music, the sky had this time turned grey at our venue and it began to rain softly. The mood, suddenly so different to Friday, was sombre and the atmosphere inexplicably strained. Now that I heard the news, I think the sky wept over Christina Grimmie‘s killing the night before. It can only have been that.

The sky has her now but it also knows what mortals down here miss. Her voice. Her face. Her smile. Her naturalness.

May you sing to the delight of angels in the sky now, Christina. Music will never stop. Bullets can never achieve this.

No one will accept that this was just a dream. You will be unforgotten by and forever real to those who loved and admired you.



Post scriptum: Only one day later, last night, another deranged man stormed a gay night club in Orlando and fired into the dancing crowd killing at least 50 and injuring 53. The sadness is of unspeakable dimension. May Sam Tsui‘s tribute to you, Christina, be a tribute too to those who were allowed to live only one day longer than you. May you all know that you were loved and will never leave the hearts of your families, friends and admirers. My prayers are with those who miss you all so terribly.