Music is a safe place.

By Jamie TworkowskiNovember 18, 2015

“Music is a safe place and Pedro is her favorite.”

Those words show up early in the original TWLOHA story, which was written nearly 10 years ago. “Pedro” was the band Pedro the Lion. “Her” was my friend Renee Yohe. The context was a few of us in the car with Renee, as she made her way to a treatment center in Orlando. Pedro the Lion was loud in the speakers to help bring comfort to a difficult moment. The original TWLOHA shirts were printed a few weeks later, created and sold with the goal of paying for Renee’s treatment.

“Music is a safe place” came to mind last Friday night as i learned of the attacks in Paris, specifically the Eagles of Death Metal concert at La Bataclan, where 89 people were killed and hundreds more were injured. In a matter of minutes, thousands were sent into mourning and thousands more were made afraid.

It is a tragedy anytime an innocent life is taken, every person in every place, and yet i kept thinking about that Paris club. Because i’ve been to hundreds of shows over the years, on behalf of TWLOHA and simply as a fan. i started thinking about the reasons people pay money and wait in line to watch and feel what happens when a room is filled with favorite songs.

We go to smile. We go to cry. We go to be reminded we’re alive. We go because the songs feel true, and that helps us feel less alone. We go to physically stand with others, a picture of the fact we’re not alone. We go to hear the stories between songs, when our heroes reveal themselves as human. They have friends and questions and struggles just like you and me.

We go to concerts because music feels like home. And we hope that every home is something safe, something comfortable and free. And yet, Friday night it wasn’t. Music wasn’t safe. Paris, one of the most beautiful places in the world, a city known for love and lights, suddenly wasn’t safe.

And it wasn’t just Paris. It was Beirut and Baghdad. It was true for millions more in Syria, on the run from evil, chasing safety, desperate for a place to call home.

With all this awful news, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. It’s easy to feel like the problems are so complex that we can’t know where to start. And so it’s easy to do nothing.

Well, we don’t want to do nothing. We want to do something. We can’t save the lives that have been lost. We can’t solve the refugee crisis. We don’t know how to stop ISIS. But we can do something, with our voices and our dollars, small alone but stronger when they are united. We’re going back to our beginning, to that simple idea that “Music is a safe place.” Because for those of us who struggle, music is important. It has been a safe place for us and we hope that can continue. We dream of a world where people are safe at concerts. And we dream of a world where every person has a home.

Music Is A Sage Place

For every “Music is a safe place” shirt sold, we will be donating $7 to our friends at Preemptive Love Coalition. They are doing life-saving work in Iraq and this money will specifically go to providing mental health services for Iraqis, many of whom live in fear because of ISIS.

Jeremy Courtney is the Founder & Executive Director at Preemptive Love Coalition. i know him personally and i believe in the great work his organization is doing. In Jeremy’s own words: “Mental health care is a seriously under-explored and under-capitalized component of stemming the outflow of refugees from this Syria/Iraq conflict. If we want to help refugees, we have to invest in mental health care.”

If you want to learn more about PLC, we encourage you to do so.

If you want to learn more about the refugee crisis and the terror caused by ISIS, we encourage you to do so.

If you want to give to another organization meeting needs in the Middle East and Europe, we encourage you to do so.

We’re living in a new world. There are real threats, real things to be afraid of. And with that, there are people in need and there are opportunities to love. It will require learning and giving. It will require taking risks and trusting people. We can make decisions based on love or fear, based on doubt or hope. The word “refugee” is not a synonym for “terrorist.” A refugee is a person searching for a home. And while that’s not the usual subject matter for this website, when it comes to mental health, when it comes to depression and addiction, perhaps you can relate to feeling alone. Perhaps you can relate to searching for a home. Perhaps you can relate to the idea that people need other people.

May we be the generation that chooses love not only when it is convenient, not simply based on color or border or flag. May we be the generation that believes every life matters. Every single person. Every single place.

Maybe music is a place to start.

Leave a Reply

Comments (12)

  1. Samantha Stewart

    This is beautiful and so are you. I love you and this incredible non-profit organization. Thank you for being alive.

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  2. Emily

    Wow. Wow wow. So good.

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  3. Laura

    Okay,so I’ll admit – when I first saw just the picture of this shirt on twitter, I quickly called BS. i pretty much dismissed it without a tin of thought because music was suddenly far from safe. It’s always *my* safe place, but my brain immediately traveled to the thousands of people, now in pain and agony or grieving a tremendous loss. Yes, speaking of Paris. All I could think was how far from safe music has become in that moment.

    Because I love this organization and the love that fuels it, I knew I owed it to myself to read this post. I was right. It opened a part of my heart that was locked and hidden. These words allowed love to penetrate a spot that needed it. Music IS AND WILL REMAIN a safe place. No one can take that away.

    I may not have the money right now, but at some point, I will own this shirt. Them, I will allow the shirt to tell a much bigger story. It’ll be a conversation starter. It’ll share love. It’ll help me have words when there seem to be none.

    Thank you for the love fueling the words, and for the heart and passion surrounding this organization and community. Many, many thanks!

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  4. Rachel

    Wow, Jamie. This is a beautiful blog post. I love this organization and everything you guys do and represent!

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  5. Marianne

    I couldn’t have said this any better. Thank you AGAIN for giving us hope and and reason/ way to help
    I was talking with my kids just today about why we pay money to see/ hear music. This is why… Not only is music a safe place… It saves lives

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  6. Madison Howard

    This was undeniably beautiful. I felt every single word so deep, I could connect with everything that was written. Music is and will forever be my safe place. Concerts are my home, a home where I don’t have to worry about anything, where there is love, beauty, peace and safety. Not just physical safety but mental safety, the music saves me. And I know it saves everyone else there. And I wish that my home was not the place that got attacked. And I wish music could save the people that did the attack like it saved the people in that room..

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  7. Paula

    I love the new music is a safe place shirt. Would love it if it was in a tank or hoodie.

    Reply  |  
  8. Pingback: Music is a safe place. « TWLOHA | The Schizo Effect

  9. Iman

    Jamie, thank you so much for this. And for everything. For all that you constantly do. This article rang oh so true with me. Music is a safe place rings so true with me. It is a reason I am still here. Everything you described about concerts is true. It is therapy. I am half Syrian. I lived in Syria for two and a half years (ironically the day of the Paris attacks was the 6 year anniversary of my return to California). I hate war, terrorism, violence, hurt, and pain. And yet, this is the reality that so many have to deal with and face on a daily basis without any control. Innocent lives being shattered and then blamed for the actions of a few individuals that they have no relation to what so ever other than coming from the same land. What terrorists and ISIS do doesn’t belong to any religion, they simply use religion as an easy scapegoat. It is a cowardly way of placing blame and hate on a group of people rather than on the attackers themselves. I feel the hate and ignorance of 14 years ago after 9/11 being placed against so many of all over again. It’s awful and so incredibly sad. Thank you so incredibly much for this statement: The word “refugee” is not a synonym for “terrorist.” Thank you for this post that so needs to be shared and talked about.

    On a bit of a different note, I have been struggling deeply this year. “If You Feel Too Much” was there for me around a suicidal period for me. I’ve never loved a non-fiction book so much. A friend who I love very much was in the hospital exactly one week ago for depression and suicide. Last night I lent him “If You Feel Too Much” in the hopes that it will help him and give him hope and that he may feel some of the love and compassion from it as I did. I hope he looks into TWLOHA and knows that he is not alone and that there are other wonderful good people out there. So thank you, Jamie.

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  10. Becca Joe

    Can you tell me more about this

    Reply  |  
  11. Just knowing

    I am wondering, is this the site where people feel safe from _________?

    Reply  |  
    1. Claire Biggs

      Hi just knowing,

      Thanks for your comment! We’re not sure if we’re the site you’re looking for, but we offer resources for people struggling withs self-injury here: If you go to our blog’s main page, you can also search the tags for posts that talk about self-injury.

      If you’re struggling, we encourage you to reach out to someone in your life for help. If you need advice or encouragement, we’d love to hear from you. Just email us at [email protected] and we’ll get back to you ASAP!

      Reply  |  
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