Joy on the Battlefield

So innocent civilians are losing their lives in Ukraine, the world seems on the brink of war and I’ve written a book called 1001 Fun Things To Do in Retirement. Bad timing, huh?


Or maybe not.

Less than a week ago, with Russian forces advancing on the capital from several directions, the Kyiv Classic Symphony Orchestra played the Ukrainian national anthem before a small crowd of bomb weary onlookers. Know what else they played?

An excerpt from Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”

“Ode to Joy,” on a battlefield? Why?

Maybe they wanted the Russian army to know that they could destroy their buildings but not their spirits.

Or maybe conductor Herman Makarenko knew that joy has a power all its own—a power greater than tanks or cruise missiles.

The Jewish leaders did the same thing for a dispirited populace about 500 BC. They told them to stop mourning and celebrate a feast instead (i.e. a fun thing to do).

Sounding much like the Ukrainian orchestra leader, the Old Testament prophet Nehemiah put it like this:

“For the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

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