Playing for Peace: Reclaiming Our Human Nature


William L. Benzon is an independent scholar interested in the mind and culture. He has also edited the first book in the Paths to Peace series, We Need a Department of Peace: Everybody’s Business, Nobody’s Job (2016) and the second book in the series, Thomas Naylor’s Paths to Peace: Small Is Necessary. He has also published Beethoven’s Anvil: Music in Mind and Culture in 2001. As a musician he has opened for Dizzy Gillespie and B. B. King and participated in arts-in-education programs funded by the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Charles Keil professed American Studies at SUNY/Buffalo until censorship pressures and a shrinking context made early retirement seem attractive. Leaving Buffalo for Lakeville, Ct. in 2000, he plays in subfields of the “joyous science”: applied sociomusicology, groovology, and echology. His books include Urban Blues 1966/1991, Polka Happiness 1992; My Music, with Susan D. Crafts and Daniel Cavicchi, 1993, Music Grooves, with Steven Feld, 1994/2005, Bright Balkan Morning: Romani Lives and the Power of Music in Greek Macedonia 2002, with Dick Blau, Angeliki Keil, and Steven Feld.

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Some call it the Anthroposcene: humans taking responsibility for the mess we have made here on Mother Earth. I have come to believe that drumming-singing-dancing-ngoma in every echological niche is the way out. And every goma becoming a dromena, i.e. we’re doing the rite this year like we did it last year and will do it again next year. We need to bring out the best festive spirit in every single soul; helping each child to full expression in a healthy social context will restore peace and ecoequilibrio locally and globally.

I was born (1939) into a world at war when the first wave of fascisms were flourishing and demonstrating daily what a terrible deathtrip the multiple addictions to technology/nationalism/militarism/dominance-control/dualisms/dishonesty/patriarchy/scape-goating, etc. could become. I have spent most of my eighty-two years on this planet trying to stop the juggernaut of “Civilization and Progress” from running over us and grinding us into the dust. In the course of putting these chapters together, I came to realize that our species-being or human nature is humorous, playful, and collaborative: Humo ludens collaborans. We are NOT homo sap sap, all the same knowing knowers; we don’t know shit. We don’t know how the flora and fauna in our own guts digest our food for us, hundreds of organisms collaborating inside us and making us possible. We don’t know why we are here with millions of other lifeforms surrounding us. My guess is that Humo ludens collaborans will have more fun finding the answers, one soul at a time, living in pursuit of wholistic happiness for everyone.

— Charlie Keil


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