One thing is true – the sun rose on a very different world this morning. I can’t imagine what it is like to be in America right now, my feed is full of people who are now feeling more isolated and are more despairing than ever before. It is true that emotions ran strongly this election – perhaps more so than in any other in recent memory. The vitriol and propaganda and hatred flowed strongly from a right-wing America who in their own way, have been left in isolation and repressed and overlooked for far too long and they took their opportunity and they pushed back. I think that the left grew complacent, they felt that the rhetoric would be enough to secure a victory. They were wrong.
It’s also not only the US election that has many people scratching their heads about the fate of the world, the public discourse through much of the West is mind boggling and so often plays to the lowest possible denominator. Brexit in the UK was a campaign fuelled by fear and outright lies – and when it all came out (the highest google searches in the UK the day after the vote were “What is Brexit” and “What is the EU” which is .. terrifying but indicative) the people who lied just said “ah well … oops” and people accepted it and moved on. In Australia we have a perpetually low standard of politician – not just that people like Tony Abbott (clearly the best person to handle Women’s Affairs and Indigenous Affairs), but the wunderkind that are One Nation and that creature Pauline Hanson, and the now desolate Palmer United Party. We’re feeling it all over the world.
The pain so many feel .. I understand it. I felt numb watching the results coming in. I felt sickness in my stomach as hatred and fear and bigotry and mysogeny won and won and won. Bigly.
Then I felt something else.
A fire lit somewhere in the back of my mind. Slowly it spread through the night, I could feel it sparking through my heart, and into my mind. Inspiration, and creativity exploded through me. I could see the next four years of my life mapped out in front of me, using my art, and my voice, and my talent. Throwing whatever I can into the world to show my brothers and my sisters out there, who feel so abandoned in this hour, that they are not alone. That they have people with them, shoulder to shoulder.
I woke up this morning more energised than I have been in a long time. Ready to use my place in the world as an artist, and a commentator, and a motivator to step into the world and share a message of hope, unity, and limitless potential. I want to create new work, and to explore old works with a new perspective. I want to find the beauty that is so prevelant in our world and lift it up. To create more of it, to open up a discourse and shine a light in the dark places until there is no place for fear and bigotry and hatred to hide. We are better than this. We can do better than this. We should do better than this and we must.
I wondered if I was the only person who felt this way .. then I started seeing more of the same thoughts and ideals and resistance lighting up my news feed. Including this wonderful quote by a good friend and fellow creative human Brenda Hartley who wrote;
“Up we get. The fight begins today. Make, write, shoot, direct, sing, perform, tell, paint, share, practice – get it out, loud and proud, bright and bold. Saturate it with authenticity, anger, wit, honesty, joy, pain, despair, and love in equal spades. Mobilise whatever you’re carrying in your head and heart, give it air, let it go – repeat. Look down the barrel of that gun and face the uncertainty with courage and generosity. The opportunities we have are there for the making, and there for the taking. Do not drop out of public discourse because in my opinion (which no one has asked me for but I don’t care) you’re needed now more than ever”
I think we can lead the fight back. We can find grace, and humility, and wonder again. We, as artists and consumers of art, have the greatest role to play in the weeks, and years to come. Don’t lose the fire. Raise your voices with me. Talk to your friends and family – even those who dont think the same way as we do. Especially them. Show them they’re not alone either, and that they don’t have to be afraid. That we can be united. As artists, that may be our biggest challenge, and our highest responsibility.
I don’t think our greatest qualities are gone away, I don’t think that this was the day that hatred won. I think this was the day that hatred made it’s last stand. And it’s going to lose. Bigly.