Via Basel: I Am


xmas tree

Millennium Park, Chicago


I Am 

I remember it from years ago:
Yo Yo Ma, our beloved cellist,
after a concert with young musicians,
quoting Pablo Casals, his mentor,
the famous cellist, activist, and humanist:
I am a human being first.
I am a musician second.
I am a cellist third.

The news flash daily:
violence, terrorism, racism,
greed, hate, and xenophobia.
I ponder quietly,
then declare loudly:
I am a human being first, a physician second,
and an orthopedic surgeon third.

I am a human citizen of the world first,
a United States citizen second,
and a Chicagoan third.
I am a spiritual human being first,
a Christian second,
and a Syriac Orthodox third.

But why stop there?
Before being human, I was a sentient being.
And before that, a living being.
And before that, stardust and original.

—Basel Al-Aswad

May peace, justice, and compassion be with us this blessed holiday season.

Basel for EILBasel Al-Aswad, father of EIL founder Chris Al-Aswad, is a yogi trapped in an Orthopedic Surgeon’s body. His loves in life include reading, hiking, enjoying nature, meditation, and spending time with his large Iraqi family.

Via Basel: Writing to My Son

Via Basel: River of Life

Pablo Casals influence on Yo Yo Ma




  • Seana Graham

    Thank you, Basel. And the best to you and yours as well.