When Peter and I started to conceptualize the work of Operation Respect, before the organization even had a name, we were looking for a way, an opportunity, to help guide young people in becoming successful adults. We realized that a key ingredient to their success was in learning how to work collegially with one another. (The only way to do that is if you learn to like each other.) Between Peter’s expertise in creating music, my knowledge of what works in education, and our shared friendship, we developed this organization, its curriculum, and its educator training.
We started out locally, here in the New York City public schools. Now our programs are being implemented around the world. Regardless of where we take the program one constant remains: We are all more similar than we are different. Each program has its own context; each participant has had his own life experiences and/or expectations. These similarities as well as differences are what make each individual program much more effective.
Music is such a powerful platform for delivering this kind of programming. Everyone can relate to songs, to lyrics, to musical themes that inspire.
Right now I am sitting at my desk and looking at a picture that Peter gave me. It’s a picture of Peter, Paul, and Mary taken during the March on Washington. When I look at this picture I am reminded that while people have changed, the dream that they once had is still the same. Maybe the dream becomes more complicated with time, but everyone desires peace and tranquility. Everyone.
We are all more similar than we are different.
By Dr. Charlotte Frank, Board Chair of Operation Respect.