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For artists, By Artists

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Since May 11, 2022

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By Amal Alhomsi

Be The Change


n a cyan sun-mottled bench, Genesis sat opposite from me and smiled. He had just performed a few songs under the June sun, and the heat still lingered on his tired face. His humorous demeanor and soft voice stood in contrast to the harsh reality of his childhood. Born and raised in the Philippines, Genesis grew up in severe poverty where he lived off of scraps: “It was a hard life, and it was hard to be a kid, because as a kid I couldn’t dream. I had to work from an early age for myself.” After moving to Canada, the 23 year old now works part time as a musician and full time at a honey factory. “It’s a sweet job,” he said as he smirked. 

In 2014, a competition was launched by My United Way Voice that gave a platform for artists to raise awareness about poverty. The requirement was to write a song that addresses poverty directly, and so Genesis wrote a song about his life titled Be The Change which won him first place in the 2019 awards. The song begins with a personal reflection:   

I close my eyes 

because all i see 

are my hopes and dreams 

that I will never reach

I hide the fear

of having nothing I need

Genesis commented on the lyrics, “The scary background I came from still creeps up on me. The fear that one day I might go back to what I fled from.” But the song offers immediate hope as the lyrics shift:

I hope that I can see the day

When everyone sees the same

Where each of us can spare the change

The kind of change we need today

“Just be kind to each other,” Genesis replied when I asked him about the change that he would like to see, “because one word can either make or break someone, and it is terrifying that we have that much power to destroy someone’s life or give it to them.”

The American historian Frederick W. Turner wrote that in the West, “We regard privacy as a natural right, but not community.” Genesis, through his music, attempts to establish community engagement as an essential part of Canadian society; “We need more events where people come together and talk about what really is out there, and what communities are lacking. I don’t think there will ever be enough of that; of attempts to reach out for people who are struggling, because they might be living right next to your house, or even be part of your own family. We need community outreach now more than ever.” 

To want change and to be the change are very different things. William Butler Yeats wrote once that “Man can embody truth but he cannot know it.” In his poem, Among School Children, Yeats asks a chestnut tree, “Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?” To Yeats, change is not an outwardly action, but an embodied reality where the actor of change and the action of it become indistinguishable. The title of Genesis’ song, Be The Change, echoes Yeats rhetorical question, “How can we know the dancer from the dance?” The answer, simply, is that we shouldn’t. So if you haven’t yet, listen to Genesis’ song and let it encourage you to be the change that we need today.

Be the ChangeGenesis
00:00 / 03:25
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