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A lot of people on the Net are having a lot of laughs at the expense of The Little Drummer Boy this year, stating that it is ridiculous to think of a kid beating on a drum while a newborn baby is trying to sleep.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not a fan of the song either. It's nowhere near being one of my favorites. But it's gotten me thinking about how we tend to see the rest of the world through our own perspective, and how narrow our view of the world thus becomes.

When we in the Western World think of drums, we think of drum kits and really loud clashing, banging, rattling, and beating. But this isn't all that drums are to everyone. In many cultures, drums are the main musical instrument. The drums convey messages, and are often far from being loud and pervasive.

So imagine a woman growing up in such a culture. She becomes pregnant. In the womb, as the child develops a sense of hearing, he hears these sounds. Even if not, he is constantly exposed to the soft rhythmic beating of his mother's heart. Is it so far-fetched to imagine this child being soothed upon entering the world, by a soft, consistent, gentle drum beat? I think not. I've heard Native Canadian drumming, and I can, with no difficulty, imagine a child falling asleep in the family's tent while villagers outside lifted up their songs in drumming. It's not ridiculous at all.

But we in our modern Euro/American perspectives, expect everyone to be like us. To us, drumming means loud, it means harsh, it means intrusive, it rarely means peaceful. So naturally, drumming is the same around the world, and no kid could possibly be soothed to sleep by drumming, right? Wrong.

Before we laugh at concepts we don't understand, perhaps it would be advisable to try to understand them. We might learn a thing or two, we might come away just a little more enlightened. We might lose the laugh, but we stand to gain a great deal more in the exchange.

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Bruce Toews

August 2017

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