I write about theatre, so I am sure the election is something that does not seem like the most natural topic. But I think it is important to address because it is something that is rippling through the country.
I obsess about theatre so that I can learn more about people. Art in all forms is important because it allows us to shine a light on the infinite facets that make up the people, cultures, and cultural movements of our planet. Art is a tool, by itself it is neutral, and it becomes whatever it is in the hands of the people that create it.
Art is collaborative. It is never the same show because it is never the exact same audience. This means every show has different beats, unique notes, and no matter the fact that every night the script is the same, they all hit differently every night. It is a living thing that reflects back at us what we project.
Art can challenge us, it can make us think and ask us to ponder ideas that are foreign to us. Art can highlight feelings and relationships and make us laugh, cry, cheer, and sing – sometimes all in the same show.
Ok, so why am I posting about this now? Because art of all types can be something that helps evoke change. It can make you think. It can make you better by looking outside of yourself and try to find, learn, and explore something new. Our country and our government is the same way, it is collaborative, it can challenge us, and it reflects back at us what we project.
Our election has ended and our new President has been elected. This may or may not be the person that you supported. You may be someone who is cheering or someone who is scared right now. Know that your feelings, whatever they may be, are valid for you. But know that whatever you are feeling there are people out there that feel the opposite. There are people who are legitimately scared of what the future may hold for them. This is not just because of a difference of political ideology, or because their person may have lost, but because of the promises and declarations that the winner has endorsed time and time again.
This does not mean that fleeing the country, or rejecting democracy are the answers. Nor does it mean that unfriending or attacking people because your side won or lost is the answer.
To everyone who is finding a way to process what happened last night, know that I am also trying to figure out what this all means. It is easy for those in a position of privilege to tell everyone to accept and move on, but that is a simplistic and arrogant attitude that in no way acknowledges the very real fear that people may be feeling.
I am a white woman and that privilege of birth alone puts me ahead of many people in the country. Yet, because I am a woman I am very aware of how vulnerable I am to the whims of people who think they have the right to tell me what I can and cannot do with my body. The idea that by virtue of my gender alone I am somehow not worthy of equal pay. I know what it is like to feel vulnerable and at the mercy of others, but I do not know what it is like to live with a different color of skin, or sexual orientation. So I already know there is a lot I don’t know.
I will not take for granted the privilege which I was born into, but instead I will use it to effect change.
While everyone is processing and wondering “what next?” know that the following things are as true today and tomorrow as they were yesterday:
• You are important, what you do matters
- For those who could use some support, text 741741. Free, confidential, anonymous. There may be some slower response times but hang in there. LGBTQ, people of color, assault survivors, differing religious beliefs, – anyone who is feeling overwhelmed, they can help.
- Every day we get the choice to decide to stand for truth, love, acceptance, tolerance, and for who we are as individuals. Make the choice to support that decision every day
- Do not let cynicism, despair, or sadness make you lose hope. It feels ephemeral today I know, but we can and will be the best country that we can be. We need you in order to do that. Hope for a better tomorrow is what will keep us powerful today
We might be in a bit of shock with this grand American experiment of life, liberty, and happiness, but no matter who or what happens we play a vital part in it. So I encourage everyone, on all sides of this election to find a way outside of your personal politics and explore. Shine a light on the things that are important and learn about the things you don’t understand. Do not lock yourself in an echo chamber that only shouts back what you believe. The future can be better than the present and we each have the power to make that happen. Rise above everything you think you know, use some empathy for those that are different than you, and know that the work at home begins.
Theatre is just one of the many tools you have to help with this.