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  • benjaminnewman01

Mod. 7.2 - A Blueprint For Future Me

Given your preferred/desirable future scenario, what role do you see for yourself in it? Who are you in your story of the future?


It is said that we are often not as specific in our dreaming (if everything goes right) as we are with our fretting (if everything goes wrong). Here is your chance to add specificity to where you see yourself in the future of your best imagination:


Write a (choose any one of the options below) ...

  • Future job-description for yourself that fits with the context described in your desirable future scenario.

  • Citation for a future award/honor/other recognition that you will receive (for your efforts in helping make your desirable-future scenario a reality).

  • Obituary for yourself, featuring prominently the work you have done towards making your desirable-future scenario come to life.

Be as detailed as you can in your imaginings; keep your writing to about 1-2 pages.

 

Ben Newman passed away earlier this week. The son of an Israeli immigrant father and mother of Armenian and Polish heritage, Ben grew up in the suburbs of metro-Detroit in a family of five brothers and four sisters all of whom were homeschooled, educated in the Westminster Catechism of Christian tradition, the prayers and practices of Jewish culture and faith, the community and artistic vitality of Armenian life, and the oft misunderstood vibrancy of deaf culture of his maternal grandparents. Ben had an appreciation for all things cultural regardless of where in the world it came from. He was fascinated by all forms of architecture, art, fashion, food, language, music, and all of the ways they intertwine throughout history. This broad array of interests led him to begin studying the violin at the age of 8 and eventually to major in Violin Performance at Hillsdale College where he also majored in French, and minored in German and Voice. His deep intellectual pursuit of all of these interests led to a varied career ranging from ministry, to refugee resettlement, to hospitality and his true passion, arts administration.


Ben’s love of music was known by all who knew him. The very fact that a professional Early Music Choir of 40 singers is gathered here today to perform and honor his wish that his favorite piece Spem in alium by Thomas Tallis be performed is perhaps one of the most enduring testimonies for his love of music. This love is perhaps matched only by one of Ben’s favorite principles which he loved to share regularly, “a commitment to outrageous pageantry.”


It makes sense then that his life’s work was spent building and conserving spaces for music and the act of artistic expression to grow and thrive. Following the Covid-19 pandemic which began in 2020, Ben’s career and passion for music started to align with the growing field of scientific research focusing on addressing and solving the issues at the root cause of many humanitarian and health crises the planet faced during that time that we are fortunate to be able to look back on from the rear-view mirror. What is now widely accepted as common practice among scientists today, to get to the heart of an issue to develop and imagine solutions to eradicate their negative impact on people and the planet, was then widely laughed off as an impossible proposition due to the economic and political systems of the time which had been passed down and sustained for nearly a hundred years following the first two World Wars of the 20th century. The reactive practice of addressing issues by putting on a band-aid and moving onto the next issue had created a world in which 99% of the population were effectively covered in band-aids resulting from decisions made by the 1% of the wealthy and political elites who were never impacted by the issues facing the planet and gladly took pleasure in the credit they received for the temporary relief these band-aids provided.


It was during this time that a number of citizens from different countries began privately and unbeknownst to them at the time, concurrently meeting, to discuss the issues they were all facing and create a system for local organizing that would soon eliminate the influence of the 1% and create sustainable communities around the world. Ben was one of the people who attended these meetings from their early stages. Representing the value and skills of arts administration, he had successfully leveraged the prestige of classical music at the time to earn a seat at the table with other citizens skilled in tech, AI, scientific research, agriculture, and healthcare. He used his place to advocate for the group to create avenues of entry for all people, regardless of their experience, education, or politics. He knew that if people didn’t feel they would be valued and have purpose in this new community, they would have no reason to leave the status quo that had existed for several generations. He convinced the others one at a time by drawing from the emerging practice of Arts & Science that framed musical experiences through a lens of creating spaces for communal healing.


Since the majority of the elites at the time had moved on from supporting classical music institutions in favor of flying on private jets to remote islands safely guarded from the outside world, hundreds of concert halls were left vacant. Ben spearheaded the movement to turn concert halls into the social gathering space for building a more sustainable world. The personal and societal damage done by many of the world’s churches, temples, and other places of organized worship created distrust among the population as spaces of ongoing indoctrination and allegiance to the elites. By co-opting spaces traditionally reserved for society’s elite, thousands were able to meet right under their noses in halls with far more resources and space than spaces of worship would have otherwise provided. The vestigial respect for these music halls that the elites held as revered performance spaces for concerts attended by their parents and grandparents but not taken seriously by subsequent generations allowed for these gatherings to go unnoticed, all while being passively funded by the very elites the groups were plotting to overthrow as a result of plush endowments and behests left to the music halls by their parents and grandparents.


It would be a gross misrepresentation of history if we did not give Ben Newman ample credit for the role he played in convincing the members of those early meetings of the value that music could provide in their revolutionary effort that allowed our current generation and planet to thrive in ways that were considered impossible back then. It is with this sense of immense gratitude that I now ask the choir to find their places to perform Thomas Tallis’s Spem in alium as was Ben’s request for this day.


You’ll notice that the singers are placed in a wide circular perimeter around all of you here today. Tallis wrote the piece for 5 choirs of 8 voices each and Ben often shared that one of the most meaningful musical experiences he ever had was to be in the center of the circle while this piece was performed live. He wanted all of you to share in that experience today. As you listen, I hope you remember Ben’s legacy of intentionality, love, dedication, and passion and allow the sublime music to wash over you and strengthen you as you leave this place. We know music’s power to heal grounded Ben in this life. It is my hope that after you leave this place, you will not only feel a sense of healing and comfort in spite of this loss, but also encouragement, gratitude and strength from Ben that I trust will be etched in your memories for years to come.

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