Today is January 20th, 2017….so I could feel like this:
by focusing on this:
and the sadness of how that equals this:
and how I see that happening to so many people already and that feels sad and scary.
Or I can focus on the fact that like so many artists, I am a superhero. My art is my Superpower.
My superpower is understanding, compassion, exploration, communication. My superpower is my voice and where I choose to use it.
The beauty of the arts, the beauty of those who devote their lives to storytelling, is that the entire point is the exploration of humanity. The search for compassion, and understanding of every journey, every struggle. Artists are generally more liberal because we work each day side by side, hand in hand with people of every different background, exploring stories covering a wide swath of humanity. We are constantly searching for understanding, common ground and connection – and that naturally (and beautifully) crosses over into our real lives. We understand the value and responsibility that comes with this privilege. We have lost the fear that so many have of ‘the unknown’ or ‘the different’. We champion underdogs and have the courage to stand up and shout when we see what is wrong, and unfair and causing pain. I applaud anyone from any background who has the courage to stand up and fight for fairness, compassion, reason…..
Performers are not above you, looking down at your life… performers ARE you – exploring your life -everyones life, on screen, on the page, on the canvas, in the lyric, on the stage…. and asking you to look beyond your own experience into the lives of others and find connection. We study human nature. Human condition. All the beautiful, terrible, inspiring and ugly sides of it. A film set is dozens or even hundreds of people from every background working together as a finely tuned machine – and it doesn’t work without ALL of them finding a way to respect and support each other. When it works well, it is magic – and you not only see it on screen, you feel it in the room- a community of people who got it right. Thank God for anyone and any project who has the courage to ask us all to be our best selves. Who when given a platform, use it to champion others, to lift those around them and to shine a light where it is needed. To support the weakest among us, to demand honesty and transparency in policy and to not be bullied into silence for fear of retribution.
People communicate with their wounds – and they eat lies when their hearts are hungry. It’s why fear can win. It is endorsing the narrative so many believe about their life and the world – that they have no power, that others are taking what is theirs, that no one is safe. But the artist has the power to remind you of who you are, the ability to get you to see through the eyes of the other person, the other idea.
This ‘us vs them’ narrative is faulty. ‘Them’ becomes ‘us’ on the turn of a dime. This is what so much art explores… the “there but for the Grace of God, go I” of having the human experience. It is also the very reason we-the-people deserve inclusive, progressive leaders and policies that respect and protect the weakest among us, build from a place of knowledge and understanding and collectively honor our people, resources and future. The very point of a structure (government) that protects the weakest citizens, is that at any moment, that could be any one of us. Poverty, natural disaster, health crisis, mental illness, accidents, unemployment etc etc etc…. the messenger of misery visits everyone in their lifetime – including those with seemingly the most power and privilege. Having a culture of inclusion that believes in a structure that protects its citizens and respects their value as people regardless of their finances, education, disabilities, race, religion, gender, age, sexuality etc – means we are all more protected. By protecting and valuing even the weakest (whoever that is, or is perceived to be, at any given moment), we protect and value everyone. A culture of compassion is one that looks for solutions instead of blame. It is the opposite of us-versus-them.
I am heartbroken by who is now leading our country – because the disrespect he has shown a long list of citizens puts all of us in danger. Terrible people bring out the terrible in everyone… and you see it happening already. The undermining of policy and programs that protect the weakest among us, the immediate rise in hate crime, the sudden implicit permission that continues behaviors that no longer serve our communities. Yes, I feel wounded… but when a wound is tired of crying, it starts to sing…. and I’m ready for all of us to lift our voices. I am incredibly excited to see the art created, the movements championed and clarity found in remembering who we are and who we are striving to be.