Though I can’t make a political statement under the auspices of the alt-weekly paper I write for, I do want to speak from the perspective of a longtime arts writer and editor. Because art is what we have. Art is the conversation. Art is our great gift, to ourselves, each other, our communities and the world.
The election results were a blow to many people I care about and even more who I don’t know but whose concerns — LGBT rights, the environment, multiculturalism, civil rights, justice, the arts — mirror my own. But this is not the time to lose heart. Rather, this is the time to be brave, be bold, stand with those we love and stand for those who feel disempowered and disenfranchised. And this is the time to make art.
We have not lost our freedom of speech. We live in a country where we can express unpopular opinions, speak out against our government and disagree with our neighbors without fear of being imprisoned, or worse. We owe it those who do not have such luxuries to exercise those rights. And for those who don’t feel safe to speak out, we must be their voices and tell their stories.
To love in the face of hatred is a revolutionary act. To hope in the face of fear is a revolutionary act. Defy that which insults your good heart. Stand tall, radiate, invest in what you love, what feeds your soul, what strengthens your community, what represents your humanity.
A president is essentially a figurehead of an ideology. So we woke this morning to face an ideology that is not in alignment with who we are in our human evolution. The sad reality is that — due to fear of change and perceived otherness — it reflects the ideology of some of our neighbors. But that still does not mean we must reconcile ourselves to a world of hate, fear, suspicion, smallness and isolation. Instead, we must be bigger than that, greater than the sum of our parts, greater than the grip of our fears.
Change is a force, like water cutting through rock. It can’t be stopped. It flows around opposition. It wears down all barriers. Be the water. Be the change. Be in the flow with all that’s beautiful and inspiring and unstoppably alive.
There’s an ad on TV right now for a PBS program on contemporary art. In it, a man says, “Can art change a community? It happens all the time.” So make art. Whatever form you work in, go to it. Delve deeply into it. Say what you need to say, but also listen for the more nuanced — or perhaps more universal — messages that are conveyed through the creative process. Face the darkness; face your own unfathomable being. Give yourself to that work, push your edge, let it change you so that you, in turn, can change those you touch.
And be changed by the art of others. Be engaged in that conversation. This is not the time to sit quietly or idly. Find stillness, yes. Find space to listen. And then do the work that you’re called to. Join the army of love. Be a warrior for what you believe. Hold fiercely to the idea that your work matters, your love matters, your shining being matters.
I love you. I see you. I’ve got your back.