Posted by: thebluemusicblog | August 25, 2011



Last week I shared with you a personal experience which has been very significant for me. It was the start of a twenty years walk through the ruins of a fallen empire, together with former enemies, now my closest friends.

What did this walk do to me?

I learnt to become patient, which I was not from nature, and I learnt eventually to close my mouth and listen, listen, listen and let people tell me who they are, where they come from, what their values are – in stead of me telling them how they should be.

I learnt about tolerance and openness and I got a deep respect for cultural differences.

I learnt about ecumenism and even Inter Faith Dialogue. I remember spending a week in the mountains of Kosovo, former Yugoslavia, together with several Christian and Muslim friends, all of them from the YMCA, and together with me was Brother Anthony Rodgers from Malaysia, a great friend of the YMCA, whom I met in Singapore during the General Assembly of Asian and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs. He helped us through a very meaningful Inter Faith Dialogue, where we concluded that we wanted to do as much as possible together in the YMCA, and only do those things separately, which we could not share, meaning that I would go to Church and they would go the Mosque to pray.

All of that helped me to understand how crucial it is that each and every YMCA is rooted in their own culture and values and in their own history.

I have walked through the ruins of a fallen empire and through this walk I was given the best education of my life! And I realised that if you learn more than you teach, you will become a better teacher. If you wait with your answers until you are asked, you may sometimes be listened to.

I also learnt to listen to the Blue Music of change.


Parables and metaphors help me to see things in different light. Therefore I play a lot with words and sometimes consciously abuse the English language.

Ten years ago. It is evening, the stars are shining above Rio de Janeiro, the quiet sea reflects the stars, and the waves are slowly moving up and down the beach. We are maybe 10 people sitting in the sand sharing a bottle of wine, 10 people from around Latin America and the Caribbean and some of us from other continents.

In the darkness I felt friendship and fellowship, I felt the excitement and hopes around the newly formed LACA, the ideas and thoughts were flying between us, sometimes the ideas went high above, almost disappearing into the stars far, far away. In the darkness under the stars in Rio de Janeiro I could again hear what I call the Blue Music of the world wide YMCA.

The Blue Music is friendship and love, is creativity and new and courageous ideas and visions, Blue Music is a good sense of humour, is laughter and smiles, Blue Music is a gift from God and has the power inside it to make change, to show new ways and directions.

The Grey Music is necessary and good, and also enjoyable. In my work at the YMCA at least 80% of my time is about Grey Music. Grey Music is good management, budgets, strategic planning, reporting, evaluations, meetings and always new meetings. To build a legacy for the next generation, at least we need to keep our house in order!

If we cannot organise our organisation, it will surely die, and therefore the Grey Music is so important. We know that.

What many of us seem not to know, is that if we loose the 20 % of Blue Music, we will also become weak and slowly die. If we loose our vision and direction and just repeat what we always did, then there will be a very modest legacy for the next generation

Both are needed. The Blue and the Grey Music.

On the beach in Rio that night long ago, I heard the Blue Music of change and of friendship and hope and new visions for LACA. It is a memory, a picture of a moment in time, and it shall forever be in my heart as a memory of a brilliant moment, as a recording of the Blue Music. Today we see so many of those dreams happening in LACA!


  1. Vakkert.

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