So What Are You Doing About It?

Some people said they felt weird about celebrating the Fourth of July this year, given the political situation in the country. I got emails about it; there were tweets about it. So I thought about it, and I revisited what I had written immediately after the 2016 election; at that time I said essentially that there was no “correct” response for artists. I still hold to that opinion, but find that two years down the road many in the artistic community feel more threatened and upset than they did even immediately after the election. So I thought about it some more and came up with this question: so what are you doing about it? There are many possible answers to that question, but here are few suggestions:

  • Talk to people. Nobody knows what you think as long as you keep it to yourself, but the fact is that we influence many more people than we think we do, so the more we open our mouths about what we see wrong with the country or what a better path might be, the more likely it is that we will influence someone.
  • Post on social media. I had no knowledge of how many in the artistic community felt about politics until I saw some of their posts of Facebook. And then I found that many of those posts were thoughtful, articulate, provocative—and well worth reading. Yours could be too.
  • Subscribe to and forward newsletters. Accurate and honest information can be nothing but good; pass it on to your friends who may need to hear some truth.
  • Create your own newsletter—for the same reasons as above. Use your editing and curating skills develop content and get the word out to those to whom it matters. It’s a more work, but it’s a worth-while project.
  • Write and call those legislators, even if they seem to be following the (other) party line. I’m not sure that petitions do much good, but if enough constituents call and write, it can and does sway all but the most hardline elected officials.
  • Give some money to those running for office who can make the changes you want made. Give to causes with whom you sympathize. Give to organizations who show that they can make a difference
  • Become politically active. Campaign for candidate you think will make a difference. Someone has to stuff the envelopes, run phone banks, deliver the yard signs, organize at the grass-roots level.
  • MAKE SOME ART! Use your artistic skills to give expression to your political or social feelings. I’m not suggesting that you make all your art political, like Michael Moore, or Pussy Riot or even Sacha Baron Cohen. You might, however, make a piece here and there that communicates your beliefs. Consider just a couple of examples: Matt Johnson created a series of satire photos of Trump and his allies that has become very popular on Facebook. Jason Isbell expanded his musical offerings to include an examination of his personal societal concerns, saying “I can’t stay completely silent.”

Maybe we, as artists, should follow suit and not stay completely silent ourselves. It seems to me that if all we are doing is acting fearful and complaining, we are all but encouraging the status quo. Is that what we really want to do?

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Date: Monday, 16. July 2018 0:59
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