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Cultivating Compassion with 
Musical Missions of Peace
By: Christine Moore
(Note: this is the full article below, not available in print)



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A musical dialogue can break down barriers and greet people as friends and equals, spreading love with a contagious and inspiring hope for establishing global community, unification. 

There are people in this world that shake things up and make a difference. Cameron Powers and Kristina Sophia are two of these people. They have traveled the world with a mission to meet people from other cultures, to develop connection and understanding.  Arriving armed with nothing but their instruments and a few songs that resonate with the culture, they open their hearts and converse through music. Not just any music, not American songs, but songs unique to the lands they visit.
Baghdad in 2003 

Baghdad, 2003

 This is what sets their mission apart.  Cameron says "By learning one line from one song we can touch people across borders."   Imagine the change of the climate of the world if we approached every culture in this respectful way, seeing each other through commonality rather than condemning others because of their differences. Music connects people beyond borders, race, country, and religion. The human family is more alike than we are different.

Cameron and Kristina's desire for a deeper understanding of others includes studying linguistics and the different ways people process information. This creates another bridge in the gap between cultures.

Semitic languages (Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Amharic) differ from other languages in that they process meaning as a verb. Indo European languages process meaning as a noun.   From the moment we begin listening to our mother language, we start conceptualizing accordingly. Semitic language does not label everything or define it; but acts it out, becoming it. For instance, in Semitic languages, the word Islam in itself is not a noun but an action meaning "to surrender."

Take a moment to let that settle. Absorb the importance. This information is crucial. Without it, we stumble along blindly thinking that people are processing information the same way that we are. Understanding and respecting that others have an entirely different experience of the world is fundamental in creating Universality. 

I never tire of the stories about how they got started. As a young man, Cameron traveled to Peru and was introduced to several Inca people in the Andes. This was a culture he had learned in school, were conquered. As many of us, this left him thinking there were no Inca people left! This rousing introduction inspired deeper studies in language as well as studies in linguistics and anthropology. He returned to Peru at 24 and backpacked for three days into a remote village. This lanky young man must have been a fearful sight to these isolated people because he arrived finding the streets completely empty. Cameron took out his guitar and sang, and within fifteen minutes he was surrounded by a village of people singing, playing instruments with him, and inviting him to stay on as long as he liked. In all, he spent eight years in Peru. 

His next adventures took him to Greece and Turkey. There, he began to uncover and eventually unravel his ingrained spiritual and political belief systems.  It was this unraveling that gave rise to Cameron's deep desire to continue his exploration of bridging cultural gaps with music.

It's no surprise that Cameron and Kristina's first encounter was in song. They met in 2000 at a benefit for a cancer survivor. Kristina saw Cameron playing and singing while she was waiting to perform. When she took the stage, she invited him to sing the first of many songs together. It wasn't long before their shared love of music and Cameron's desire for travel took them on the road.



Kristina and Cameron -- Musical Ambassadors

To date, they have journeyed through Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, the West bank and Lebanon. They sang for sixty thousand people in the Cairo stadium as the only non- Arab performers. They traveled from Jordan into Baghdad in the days following the bombing in 2003. They did not have the official admissions to cross the border, so they sang a song, and that was passport enough.  

As they entered Baghdad, they were welcomed by the local people who were happy to see them. What is most striking is that even when people like these have endured so much devastation and hardship (brought on by fellow human beings) there is still such a resiliency of spirit. 

They have brought the Iraqi's welcoming message home, performing "Singing in Baghdad" for thousands of US citizens. 



Tahrir Square - Cairo Egypt, 2003

In a recent trip to Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, Cameron and Kristina's letters paint a picture of the scars of war. Men start and fight these battles, yet women and children are left with enormous suffering. The war in Iraq has left two million documented widows struggling a decade later. And these are the documented cases. The actual number is thought to be closer to four million.

Within this vast poverty, children are born with deformities resulting from the poisonous weaponry used by the US military. Mothers are left with few options, often begging in the streets.

This affects neighboring countries as well. With the generous admission of three million Iraqi refugees; Syria's growth is unsustainable.  Few other places welcome these refugees.

In Kristina's letters from Damascus in 2010 she writes about Zahara (meaning flower), a twenty year old woman eager to lead them around and introduce them to the local people. From Kristina's letter, "I invite her to the hotel lobby and pull out a frame drum. I show her how to hold it. And I start a common Arabic rhythm. Pretty soon a smile breaks out on her face. She says somehow the rhythm which is inside her is just coming out. Everyone here has the rhythm inside of them. They just need the drums and the opportunity to let it out."  On parting, Kristina gifts Zahara with frame drums for her village in Babylon.

The heartache, poverty and sorrow is apparent in Kristina's other entries. She says "the children are not like other children, they don't smile." These and other stories are numerous, traveling from town to town, often paying for supper with a song.

Cameron and Kristina are musical ambassadors; carving a new way to represent Americans in the world and helping others do the same through their nonprofit, Musial Missions of Peace. Musical Missions has established drum circles in San Diego where there are 50,000 Iraqi refugees. They also channel funds to many lineage holders in Syria and Jordan. The hope is to pass on traditional music to women and children, in order to keep their rich musical heritage alive and thriving. Kristina writes "This is a very simple way to help lift them from despair into empowerment."

There is a current of hope for humanity, and the possibility of a world with less violence seems within reach in the presence of their inspiring work. 

From "The Role of Music and Art in Creating World Peace" Deepak Chopra states, "Music is not a system of thought but a language of the soul.  It's not of the intellect or the ego, but a creative process." This is what separates musical ambassadors from political; there is an automatic connection that sparks trust and understanding. 

Cameron and Kristina's rule number one when traveling is, "Everyone is always right from their own perspective." This approach can only bring a more positive outcome and a sense of unity that vastly differs from our political approach of fear, polarity and dis ease. 

In simply approaching our fellow humans with regard, we find opportunities to break down barriers and cultivate more compassion. Bridging gaps must begin at home. Cameron and Kristina's message carries forward not only across borders, but in our neighborhoods as well. It's a message for all human kind, no matter the complexity of our differences. 

The brutality of war does not choose sides. Our compassion can extend toward our sons and daughters returning home from military duty, who struggle with difficulties of re entry, depression, and feeling displaced. It is important to remember that death from war is not limited to combat. Every day twenty two suicides are recorded by the IAVA, Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America. The number of deaths is not as staggering as those of the Iraqi people, yet there are thousands of Americans grieving here at home. Each and every one of us can use a little more acceptance and tolerance. 

As Cameron so eloquently stated, "It's not about politics, it's about people." 

Borders are lines drawn to divide us. Reach across these fabricated boundaries and open your heart to your human family. Maybe we can be encouraged by Cameron's simple words, "Show up and sing a love song." 

~Christine Moore 


For more information visit www.musicalmissionsofpeace.org


Palestinian Reaction


Musical Missions of Peace


...Watch the video below...

Musical Missions of Peace - Palestinian Refugee Camp in Damascus
Musical Missions of Peace - Palestinian Refugee Camp
in Damascus





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about activities of Musical Missions of Peace:
Cameron and Kristina, Musical Ambassadors of Musical Missions of Peace 
Cameron Powers: cameron@rmi.net
Kristina Sophia: kristinasophia@yahoo.com