17160 Stephen Kalyta: 10,000 Helping Hands

Article by 17160 Stephen Kalyta

I have written before the extraordinary synchronicity derived from sharing moments with strangers through music. Fans find commonality in the same assembly of notes despite having entirely different experiences.

My most recent experience while attending a Disturbed concert was fittingly “disturbing”. The band’s frontman, David Draiman broke from concert protocol to announce the suicide of Keith Flint. He is a friend of the band and by most descriptors a wealthy and successful musician. David then asked by show of hands with all lights illuminated, how many people knew of or directly suffered from depression, addiction or other forms of mental illness.

As previously foreshadowed, the result of David’s poll was indeed disturbing. With 10,000 fans or more in attendance, I was hard pressed to find a hand that was not raised, including all the band members. David scanned the crowd saying, ” look around you people, you are not alone.” He added that we all must remain watchful and ready to begin the conversation with “are you okay?”

The sense of melancholy I sensed from the pervasiveness of those affected made we wonder if somehow we are missing the root cause while only addressing symptoms. Were we fans drawn to this concert as a source of refuge from our troubles or as spectators to each others woes?

I am a problem solver, its what I do. Unfortunately I was at a loss to offer one.

Then it finally dawned on me as I saw Draiman more as a leader that night than musician. He stood in the limelight and conceded weakness, a human condition in order to offer Hope that we are not alone. Military college symbolizes this mechanism by surrounding you with a community committed to your success and to be there for you if you have to take a knee. Hope is the innoculation against the ravage of diseases like mental illness. But in order for Hope to take hold you have to be brave enough to raise your hand.

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