Higher Ground’s Mission


I was recently asked at a party by a casual listener, how and why Higher Ground came to be a world music program on WPR. Instead of merely answering the inquiry directly, I slipped on my professorial cap, focused on the why, took a long breath, and began lamenting how in my view, Nationalism, racism, gender discrimination, xenophobia, and religious intolerance as well as a host of other social challenges contribute to human hatred around the world.

As the listener’s eyes grew bigger, I drew another breath and noted that since the beginning of time, humans have struggled to find a binding cure for human hatred. I mentioned slain U.S. Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who held that hatred paralyzes, darkens, and confuses life (King, 1963). Noticing that other invited guests had drifted toward my passing lecture, I recounted two examples in world history’s not-so-distant past: the enslavement of Africans illegally transported to the Americas and, the horrific persecution of Jews in Germany.

Someone faded the background music as I projected that more recently hatred resulted in massive genocide in Rwanda, civil war that engulfed Uganda, ethnic strife in Sierra Leone, the cruelty of apartheid in South Africa, and widespread murder in the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. These and other more current tragic events provide only a sobering representation of a much broader global challenge linked to human hatred.

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Nearly an hour later and after a good deal of friendly back and forth by other well-informed guests, I got around to explaining that creating Higher Ground was a remains my response to this human disease. It includes a personal onus to cordially engage listeners by inviting them to experience, celebrate and learn about other cultures through the musical traditions of various groups aired during the broadcast. I ended my impromptu address by concluding that Higher Ground’s presentation of world music aspires to create a means for better understanding others who are different. This is in my judgment, one of many pathways leading to a possible cure.

Footnote: The theme song of the show includes the lyrics, “Let me take you to some higher ground, where you can get a better view.” The underlying suggestion is that listening to the program may provide the listener with a better view of our cultural differences. Differences with qualities I believe are worth illuminating and celebrating.

As always…your thoughts and experiences are welcomed.