Written on 6/08/2020.
In this time of great instability, with images every day of authorities beating protestors, shoving people to the ground, shooting rubber pellets, dropping tear gas, terrorizing citizens with low flying helicopters, and effectively invading our nation’s capital city with a secret police force, it is difficult to think about anything else, except perhaps COVID 19.
And yet, there is perhaps no time when it is more important to touch base with art, and spirituality. It is tempting to give all of our attention to the crises, but, paradoxically, that can hinder resolution and progress. Because the crises are not new. Was there ever a time the world was not, somewhere, being ravaged by disease? And if COVID 19 is bringing deaths to many families right now, and turning a spotlight upon the horrible conditions in America’s nursing homes, are there not always grieving families and have not the conditions been horrible before the spotlight was lit?
We are not dealing with a new explosion of police brutality, or hatred, or evil, or bad politics, or disease, or natural disasters. All of it has existed all the time. Every season has its hurricanes, every family its deaths, every society its authoritarian tendencies, every sunlit life its haunted shadow.
On the one hand, I find myself frozen and riveted by the spectacle. How is it possible to turn any attention elsewhere in the face of this explosive mass movement. Surely it is the most important matter of the moment.
But then I think: did I imagine that none of this was happening before May 25th, when George Floyd was murdered? Weren’t there riots in Hong Kong? Wasn’t there police brutality throughout the U.S.? Were there not children starving throughout the third world? Was there not war in the Middle East? Had the Israeli-Palestinian conflict been solved? Were children safe at our borders?
The shitstorm is not new.
How then, could any of us have lived our lives to this point without being as determined as we are now, at this moment, to take action.
Should we feel guilty?
I don’t think so. Because if the horror has been always with us, so too the beauty. Art survives through it all because we learn to hold both the wonder and the horror of life. As the wheel turns, we focus here, then there.
It is important when things seem okay and we are comfortable in our various degrees of privilege, to remember the horrors that persist in the world and the need for Justice.
But it is also good when the horrors rise to demand our attention, to remember what is still fine and beautiful and worth preserving and also receiving our attention.
So fight! Protest! Rise to the occasion!
But it is also okay to paint a painting, write a poem, read a new or classic novel, make music, enjoy a fine meal, or just sit and contemplate the sunset.
We live in a dappled world, and so it is always.
What I mean is: Be woke. But be kind to yourself. And don’t be afraid of joy in the midst of sorrow.
Your Storming Bohemian
Written on 6/08/2020.