Art allows us to renew ourselves and to express our psychological awakening to the deeper meaning of life. It gives expression to the ineffable. It can bring people together to act for the good of another person, a community, or the entire world. I choose to use words and music for their transformative power, particularly where social injustice remains.
Much of my life has been devoted to my love of music, and it has enabled me to travel extensively, to perform, to share, to teach, and to learn. It was an exploration of music in world cultures that led to my desire for greater spiritual awareness and a dedication to peace activism. Music for art's sake was not enough. I needed to communicate a social justice message that would have an impact.
Swami Harshananda wrote in the foreword of my recent book, The Spiritual Power of Nonviolence: "If wars are born in the minds of men, so is peace. The basis for peace lies in the deep-rooted conviction about the power of goodness." That is, while nonviolence is necessary, it is not a sufficient condition for a peaceful life. It is through universal love - a deep respect for life and for justice - that we derive the power to transform conflict, and turn the negative energy it generates into a positive force.
As a writer, a lecturer, and an ordained interfaith minister, I examine and work to set up a dialogue on positive peace-building within various religious traditions by focusing on common teachings, values and symbols that are shared by the great world religions.
- George Wolfe
The Spiritual Power of Nonviolence: Interfaith Understanding for a Future Without WarReligion and violence—the two concepts seem incompatible given the emphasis in religion on virtue, love, forgiveness and compassion. Yet many scriptures contain martial images and stories of god-inspired military conquest. The Spiritual Power of Nonviolence confronts this theological contradiction, arguing that martial images and symbols found in religious texts are often meant to be interpreted as metaphors for an inner spiritual struggle and should never be used as a justification for war. [Explore the website created for this book here.]Verses Re VersusThis new poetic form is constructed so that the second stanza of each poem
is the first stanza with the words arranged in reverse order.
Verses Re Versus: #5"Flags wave.We reason the war is over.Is night forgotten? Ourloss, our celebration?Painful parades, ourlessons unlearned.* * * * *"Unlearned lessons?Our parade's painfulcelebration, our loss,our forgotten night isover! Is war the reason wewave flags?"
Verses Re Versus: #7"Eyes staringthrough darkened years,frail, with quivering lips,shatter memoriesfrozen in wilted words.* * * * *“Words wilted in frozenmemories shatterlips quivering with frailyears darkened throughstaring eyes.”
George Wolfe, a Ball State University professor emeritus of music, is an accomplished classical saxophonist with an extensive musical repertoire inspired by world cultures. He has performed concerts and has been heard on radio stations throughout the United States and abroad, and has appeared as a soloist with such ensembles as the The Royal Band of the Belgian Air Force, the World Band at Disney World, the Chautauqua Motet Choir, and the Indianapolis Children’s Choir.
Critics have praised his playing as "brilliant and moving." His recordings have won praise from Steven Ellis of Fanfare Magazine and jazz great David Baker. George Ruckert, MIT world music professor, has referred to George Wolfe as "a major musician of our time."
Dr. Wolfe is featured on eight volumes of the compact disk series, America's Millennium Tribute to Adolphe Sax, and on his two most recent CDs, Le Saxophone Melodieux and Le Saxophone Extrordinaire. In 1997, Ball State University awarded Dr. Wolfe its Outstanding Creative Endeavor award for his CD entitled Lifting the Veil.
Also, Dr. Wolfe has presented master classes at the Paris Conservatory, Indiana University, and the Interlochen Center for the Arts, and he has taught as an artist-in-residence at Arizona State University, Klagenfurt Conservatory (Austria), the University of Saskatchewan (Canada), and at the University of San Jose in Costa Rica.
George Wolfe served as Director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at Ball State University with distinction, and he continues to play a major role there as Coordinator of Outreach Programs. As a peace educator, he frequently lectures both within and outside the United States on topics related to nonviolence, peace studies, academic freedom, and the role of the arts in social activism. Professor Wolfe also has been an active performer of protest music, and has given numerous performances of Martin Wesley Smith’s video-acoustic composition, Weapons of Mass Distortion, that was written as a reaction to the 2004 U.S.-led preemptive invasion of Iraq.