Today for the first time I intentionally turned away from the daily news. Artists, for some reason, are junkies for this stuff. A quick glance at my Facebook page and I see there’s been another police shooting in the States. This after the previous one in Dallas a few days ago, the attempted coup in Turkey, and yet another terrorist attack in France. And countless tragedies before that. Maybe because artists are so often emotionally driven, we watch all of this and end up getting too much of it. We’re all getting too much of it.
It seems to me that there are very large global shifts taking place. When the smoke embers die down the world will be a very different place than what we now know. There is something happening spiritually. This isn’t just political, or racial, or religious. Pandora’s Box has been opened. The lid has been removed from all the worst parts of human nature. G-d isn’t gone, he is just silent, letting us take ourselves wherever it is we want to go.
So I think about what I can do. What is my part? What kind of difference can I make to shed light on all this darkness? I think about what artists in the past have done. Like Jacques-Louis David’s “The Death of Marat”, Picasso’s “Guernica” and Dylan’s “Times They Are A-Changin’.” They painted and sang and made statements in an age before the internet and social media. Those kinds of statements are drowned out in an age that sees everything in the moment it happens. But they are powerful statements nonetheless, timeless. The artists before me have something to teach me about the power of my gift.
The story of Pandora’s Box tells of the worst aspects of us being unleashed on the world and all that is left in the box is hope. And I think this is where artists come in. We have the tools to make and spread hope and peace. I don’t mean something fluffy. I don’t mean something that denies what is falling apart all around us. I don’t mean we ignore the convulsions on our planet. I mean we speak truth to power, we point to what must change, in each of us and in whole systems, and we lead the way back to the one thing left in the box that can turn the tide. We point to the transcendent picture, to what is possible. We paint, we write, we sing, we speak, we take from this revolution and lead the way. We have the power to shift its direction. We have the tools to get people to take notice, even above the noise of social media and the 24/7 news cycle. But it means stepping out of the flow of everything that is happening and going against the current. It means being daring and fearless. It means following in the footsteps of others who took a brave turn and created another way.
Revolutions, and counter-revolutions, start small, sometimes only with one person.
And I am one person. You are one person…