It was an incongruous situation. The air was resonant with the music and songs mourning for the countless lives lost in the war. Gunfire of hatred could destroy everything physical, but it could never stifle the voice of beauty and compassion from the human hearts.
The scene was in downtown Sarajevo, capital of war-torn Bosnia, the same venerable city visited by -- perhaps you remember -- Joan Baez the pop singer and pacifist from America, who came and sang at concerts there last year.
Mostly she travelled around in an armoured personnel carrier, but one day she took a walk outside. In front of a bakery reduced to ruins, she saw a man playing the cello there for the 22nd day hitherto, grieving with his music over the bombardment victims, including his own brother.
Joan stopped. She listened to him playing adagio, bemoaning the ghastly deaths and rejoicing over the miraculous survivals. Finally, she knelt down beside the cellist and the two ended up in a close embrace, weeping.
“All day long, I was seized by a swoon of soundless sorrow,” wrote the singer later. “I wouldn't have regretted it even if I'd died that very day!” Reading those printed words, I felt tears welling up in my eyes and music ringing in my ears -- an image of the ruins, witness to the dignity of Man.