Issue #118 / October 2020

I’m thinking about having a child but everything looks so grim right now. What’s your advice?


It looks like your website is censoring people who ask about Israel. Wtf?



Why are you playing in Israel?


Dear Poliana,

Thank you for the many and varied letters you have sent to The Red Hand Files. They have not gone unnoticed, and it is always a pleasure to hear from you.

Personally, I think it would be a mistake not to have a baby because of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. I suspect in the long term you may live to regret that decision.

In my experience something can happen to a new parent, a perception shift, as they are absorbed into the strange and absolute universe of the child, where the problems of the outside world temporarily retreat. There can be, on a deep level, a radical softening of one’s adversarial or pessimistic position toward the world, as the baby reconfigures our understanding of it. Things look less grim.

This has certainly been the case for me. I would say that my own children have gone a long way toward amplifying and energising my understanding of the world’s potential. They have become bright windows through which I can imagine the world anew. Despite our perilous predicament, they have turned me into a cautious optimist, as I watch them go about making things better. There are many reasons people don’t have children, of course, but to choose not to have them as a reaction to the state of the world seems, to me, defeatist and sad.

As for your question on Israel, I will refer you to Issue #13 where I lay out my reasons for playing Israel — no need to do that again here, they’ve changed little. I can assure you, though, that there is no censorship of questions relating to Israel on my website, and this will be evidenced by the usual cascade of letters I will receive from the boycott advocates, after posting this Issue.

However, let me just say this. My music is not designed to reward people for good behaviour, nor do I make music to punish people for bad behaviour. My music is not conditional. It is for everybody, regardless of their actions, good or bad or otherwise. I hope my music has the capacity to advance the world in a positive direction. I say my music because I believe each musician should be afforded the respect to arrive at their own understanding of what the exact purpose of their music is. I make music in the hope that it improves matters, that it makes things better. Poliana, how I wish I could walk on stage again in front of an actual crowd, in Israel, or in New Zealand or anywhere else, and play — what an absolute privilege that would be.

Love, Nick


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