It’s a tough time in the world and I’ve been pondering what, if anything, to say, wondering if the world needed yet another voice yapping on about justice and mercy. And what would I say, anyway…that I’m for it? Seems obvious, doesn’t it?
What I do believe is that each of us is given a function in this world, each one unique and necessary. Mine, for now, is writing, and I do believe that the pen is mightier than the sword and that it is the responsibility of writers to speak truth to power. Well, it’s the responsibility of all of us, isn’t it? Writers simply do it on the page.
In the post-election period, for me, it’s been difficult to find something to work on, something that is politically relevant and timely. It seems to me as though we in the west are now entering a period that calls for resistance and persistence, something the artists who lived and who continue to live under repressive regimes the world over have known for a long time.
Perhaps it all needs a little more time to compost. Things are moving fast, and may very well be far different in six months or a year than they are now. However, the values we are being asked to consider and to uphold are universal: Truth, Kindness, Mercy, Justice, Humility, Courage, Commitment, Tolerance… I don’t need to tell you.
So why am I writing this down at all? For this reason… I urge you, all of you writers and dancers and playwrights and sculptures and painters and film makers… even if you don’t yet know what work will ultimately come out of this dark time of racism, misogyny, hate-speech and ‘alternative facts’, please keep going. We need you more than ever. Be bold. Be brave. Inspire us all, and let us know we’re not alone in a world gone bonkers.
And you readers, as well… the act of buying books can be subversive and political. Buy books by non-Americans, books by women and Muslims and Hindus, by black and brown and red and yellow people; for unless you buy these books, publishers won’t publish them. But maybe you don’t know where to begin – well, how about we start with books by Muslims? Consider, perhaps either AN UNNECESSARY WOMAN by Rabih Almeddine or THE MOOR’S ACCOUNT by Laila Lalami.
Of course, we must demonstrate and make phone calls and write letters, but let’s also make the work we do and the choices we make part of this new experience and part of the resistance.
I’d love to hear what you’re working on, what you’re reading, what you’re listening to. I’d love to be inspired by your responses. Lists of books, music, art exhibitions, plays… send ‘em all, and let’s pass them around on social media as well.
Thanks for reading, and for being here.