Guest Blogger Ryan Green
"Character of Lao-Tzu
Music is a world of its own. Every state has to have population,
territory, permanence, political organization, and sovereignty. A band is just the same. The population is the band members, which can either be ruled by a monarchy (the leader makes all the decisions) or a democracy (the members have a say). The territory is all the different places you play. While it may not be as physically permanent, when you play somewhere, that place is as good as home. Permanence is return business, but instead of the client returning to you, you return to the client. Political organization is the administrative side of a band, such as contracts, how much each member gets paid, etc. Sovereignty means that other "countries" recognize you as a country. In this scenario, it can be compared to critics of your music. If they say you are a band, you are in. Every band has a leader, just like a country. Some bands have a set-in stone leader, others are flexible. Personally, I know of a leader that brings qualities from both sides. Denbigh Cherry is an example of such a leader. In both the music and administration sides of a band, he uses Tao-like philosophy. There are three facets of being in a band: finding places to play, band member relationships, and, of course, the music. Denbigh shows Taoism in all of these.
Being in a band is useless unless you have places to play. Contrary to popular belief, people don't just call you and say, "Hey! Come play here tonight and I'll pay you whatever you want." These things are planned for months in advance. Sometimes you get a call from a place and you have to say no, because of many reasons like money, distance, and overall quality of the place. Denbigh's attitude towards these things is dramatically different than many other band leaders. Most leaders get everything done themselves and just bring others as employees. In our band, all members find places to play and connect the band with people who can be beneficial in the future. In effect, Denbigh is just another member of the band. "When there is no desire,/ all things are at peace" (Lao-Tzu 25). Denbigh is not interested in becoming famous or anything of that nature. He just wants to play the music. This is good for the resolve of the band because if there are no goals there is no disappointment. Everyone is happy exactly where they are.
Another big and sometimes complicated facet is the relationships between the band members. When conflict arises, Denbigh is not the kind of leader who yells like a bad parent until the conflict is doused, but has everyone sit down and wait until someone says something. Therefore, solutions come from the members, not the leader.
The third and most obvious facet is the music. From picking songs to playing them, Denbigh demonstrates the Tao in many ways. All the members pick the songs to play, not just one. Anything can be selected, within reason. Also, the authority of what to play in each song is in the hands of the population. If anyone has a suggestion, they speak up and the group decides. "The Master sees things as they are,/ without trying to control them./ She lets them go their own way,/ and resides at the center of the circle" (24).
Spirituality is very important to Denbigh. He is a Christian worship leader, traveling all around the world leading others in worship, a very spiritual calling. Everyone in the band is also a Christian, making for a very spiritual group. The Tao emphasizes that spirituality is important, no matter what kind it is.
As you can see, Denbigh Cherry encompasses many of the principles described in the Tao, and more. If he were to shift his focus to politics, I'm sure that he would do well in any position of authority, no matter how big or small. Also, he is about to be a father, and in my experiences talking with him about the child, his philosophies he brings to the band will be put into action with his baby, and I'm sure that the child will turn out as fresh and exciting as his ideas as a leader. He lets the people rule themselves, emphasizes non-action, and is an advocator of spirituality. He encompasses most of the philosophies of the Tao, and many more. He is a great example of a leader.
Jacobus, Lee A. ed. A World of Ideas. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2005"