An Embarrassment of Riches

I know doom and gloom fill news reports on current events. We have a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, narcissist squatting in the Oval Office like a fly-bloated toad, sliming every surface with his amphibian ooze and poisoning the atmosphere with his expulsions.

He’s alienating us from allies, playing dangerous games of chicken with other narcissistic fools who have nuclear weapons, and allowing his children, Cabinet officers, and aides to enrich their personal bank accounts using the taxpayers’ money. All while the GOP-dominated U.S. Congress and Supreme Court sit on their thumbs and watch the show.

It’s enough to make creative, fair-minded, and hopeful people wallow in despair.

But we can’t let despair win. After all, as Margaret Mead so eloquently noted, a small, dedicated band of people can change the world.

To do that, we need to hold onto our dreams of a better world. And we need to keep hope alive. Because we still have reason to hope. At least, those of us with first-world problems have a lot of reasons to hold onto hope.

Yes, a lot we value is being fractured from within. And it’s scary as hell.

But we can’t focus on the negative all the time. We need to tap into beauty, art, sports, and nature so we can allow our physical and psychological bruises to heal. We need to lean heavily on the things that make our world a better place, the things that we’re fighting for.

And right now, we have an embarrassment of riches in the arts. Amazing songwriters and musicians like Janelle Monáe and Donald Glover have new work out. Filmmakers are producing tons of entertainment to fill our movie theaters. In the comforts of our homes, we can access a golden age of television thanks to the old-fashioned networks, cable channels, and amazing studios like Netflix. Just look at the Emmy-nominated shows to see all the great artistry we can tap into with just a few clicks of our TV remotes.

And all that has nothing on the artistry being produced by dancers, photographers, painters, and sculptors. Not to mention the literary community and its output. I could easily list a dozen writers who are currently producing some of the best work I’ve read in a long time.

While this is a scary time to be alive, it’s also an exhilarating one. Frankly, I’m beginning to think that goes hand in hand. Times of great uncertainty and turmoil prompt artists to push the envelope and try something new in response to the fear and unrest. To really capture the feeling of their times means breaking rules and pushing past what’s been done before.

How are you channeling the turmoil in your work?


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