(Part One of Three)
I’ve never been particularly political. I like arts, humanities, and people. I like stories and the individual. I like the underdog, personal moments, intimacy, and vulnerability. None of these are a part of politics. These are the conditions that politics can’t sustain as it is the realm of the public, posturing, power, and popularity.
But the more I feel people are being ostracized and silenced, the more I want to speak up. The more I feel like the arts are being dominated by a single voice or style or perspective, the more I want to make my own voice heard — and the voices of other dissidents, misfits, and contrarians. The more we focus on outrage, shaming, intimidating, and silencing each other, the less energy we have for humanities and the fewer creative perspectives we see.
So here I am, against my better judgment, contributing to the political noise through cultural commentary. This is my own way of trying to pull back on the hysteria while sorting through my own thoughts. I want to use a measured and compassionate voice to help me understand the turbulence and chaos in our political sphere and connect with other displaced-feeling citizens who are overwhelmed by all the screaming. In my mind, if I can make sense of the senseless, we can start to find solutions and then calm.
I’m fully aware the chaos is its own animal and things with momentum can’t be stopped. Part of me believes we are on an inevitable path to a culture war. The line has been drawn, people are taking sides, the discussion has broken down and verbal swords are drawn.
Another part of me wonders if we are all screaming babies in the night, scared of the dark and the silence, hearing activity in the kitchen, desperate for attention, and I wonder if our problem has one simple solution: Reassurance that we have not been forgotten.
I find myself drawn to writing about politics because as tensions rise, it is becoming clear to me that politics is not downstream from culture as Andrew Breitbart said, and culture is not downstream from politics either.Since the election of Donald Trump, politics has become culture and culture has become politics. They are symbiotic at best, and co-dependent at worst, but they are inseparably intertwined. Trump has become an obsession and has saturated all conversations and experiences, and he makes an appearance in our everyday lives like no politician I can remember. He is both the cause and the effect.
Is it better to add my own noise to the cacophony or to bow out until those who are screaming get laryngitis? My mind tells me to bow out. My stress levels tell me to bow out. My self-doubt tells me to bow out. I can’t make a difference; the noise is too great; the environment is too toxic; it is too exhausting, and I have better things to do.
Something compels me to speak up, anyway. The things at stake are very important to me. I believe they deserve protection, deserve a voice. If not me then who? With so many loudmouth, obnoxious voices in the political realm, maybe there is a group who would like to listen to my slightly less obnoxious and loud-mouthed voice for a change of pace? Maybe my own craving to share alternative perspectives, personal stories, and compassionate understanding will be met with the same?