One of the great things about having a website is that it gives me a forum for putting my thoughts out to the world, whether those thoughts take the form of wearable objects or the written word. I am humbled by the comments I receive from you, my lovely readers. Thank you for your attention. The very possibility that my ideas strike a nerve in you is the mark of success for any artist.
(Flag, encaustic, 1955 by American artist Jasper Johns.)
This morning, I find I am at a loss for words. How hollow, it seems, to write about my internal creative struggles while fellow Americans struggle to survive. The Corona virus pandemic continues to ravage families in new hot spots around the country. The economic devastation wrought as a consequence to necessary quarantine puts millions of families’ financial and emotional security in danger. An additional heart-wrenching result: millions of women and children in abusive living situations are isolated with their abusers, making it even more dangerous to reach out for help. (National Domestic Violence Hotline.)
Some of the more fortunate among us remain at home, ordering groceries in, missing out on human contact. Behind locked doors, we flip between what’s streaming on Netflix, Hulu and our chosen news provider. Arguably, no matter what we choose, we watch artfully-fabricated realities unspool without participating. What will be the consequences thereof? We don’t know yet, but increasing depression is what I’m hearing from friends and loved ones.
Those of us who do venture out are hidden behind face masks, hoping to keep our germs to ourselves, obscuring our identities with chaos-theory-like consequences. Case in point: Americans have managed to politicize the wearing of protective masks, choosing to fight for the right to expose others to potentially deadly virus germs rather than take the long view that caring for each other now means more of us will be alive to enjoy our rights and privileges later. Our differing positions on what it means to be “free” have never been more glaring.
On top of this, another African American man has died at the hands of law enforcement, inciting protests around the country. Peaceful protests turn to bloody riots as communities struggle to process their fury at yet another example of the disregard for Black human life, this time caught on camera. Surely, by now we have all seen what happened: depraved indifference by one ostensibly charged to protect and serve his community. One silver lining: support from the law enforcement community condemning Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin’s actions as abhorrent, recognizing them for the crime they are. Potent words and actions from officers who lay down arms and embrace protestors say perhaps we can find our way through this sooner, rather than later.
In the face of all this tragedy, I feel overwhelmed. I want to invoke my eternal sense of optimism that this, too, shall pass, but it smacks of Pollyanna-ism right now. Too many people are on the front lines dealing with real pain, staring down real injustice. Instead of wrapping up this writing with a prescription to apply a verbal band-aid to real wounds, I resist that urge. I concede that I don’t have answers today. I regard these events with the gravity to which they are entitled. But, not knowing what to do at this moment will not stop me from playing a role in healing our communities when things make more sense. This is happening in all of our back yards. Think NOW about the role you want to play in healing.
With love and gratitude.