I woke up to a brilliant London sun, a momentary diversion from the darkness of this day. Then I remembered the date, pulled the covers back over my head, and began to cry.
I spent the morning performing to a packed auditorium of North London schoolchildren and the afternoon guiding a group of 10 and 11-year-old violinists through basic yoga and mindfulness principles, followed by a masterclass. Whenever my brain wandered off for a split second and I remembered what was about to happen across the ocean, my eyes would well up with a fresh round of tears. I kept re-centering myself in the room with a reminder that the day’s activities — chamber music, yoga, the peaceful transfer of knowledge and experience — represent the opposite of what DJT stands for. I took, and take, solace in the gentle combat of ignorance with art.
We may not be able to change the minds of many of today’s grown-ups, but we can certainly give children the tools, motivation, and confidence to blossom into dazzlingly bright human beings, unafraid to knock down walls and replace them with pillars of strength, progressive ideas, and inclusion. Looking out at a veritable rainbow of young faces today, alert and eager for the music to begin, I was reminded that humans don’t start out their lives with hate in their hearts, for other skin tones or classical music or opportunities to better themselves. Intolerance is cultivated; conversely, so is kindness, curiosity, and ambition. It is our responsibility to lead by example and encourage the latter set of ideals in our successors.
I feel extraordinarily lucky to have spent this deeply dark day doing the things I love most in the world with some exceptional tiny humans. I feel confident that none of them, having listened to a bit of Kreisler or spent some time breathing deeply, will feel the urge to shoot up a school or deride an entire religion tonight. I predict that they will continue asking thought-provoking questions, making astute observations, and listening to other people as they speak. I hope they will pick up their predecessors’ slack and live by the campsite rule: to leave things in at least as good a state, emotionally and physically, as when they found them.
My eyes, when I close them in a few hours, will contain fewer tears than when I woke up this morning.