Today I was humbled. All of us who took the truth to be self-evident were humbled. We’ve been reminded of those two great barriers to progress, assumption and complacency, trumped by the greatest barrier of all — fear.
It’s strange to always be awake while America sleeps. I wish I could’ve slept on this, instead of having to face the glaring reality in silence, alone with my countrymen scattered around on this side of the ocean, feeling adrift and oddly abandoned even as we commiserate with each other.
I am reminded, more deeply than I have been in many years, why I chose this path for myself. Why my second major in college flitted between political science and philosophy and journalism, but my commitment to film and storytelling never wavered. Why I keep banging on the keyboard four years after I began, trying to finish this damn book. Why I grab hold of anyone with a faintly artistic dream and squeeze every bit of confidence and encouragement into them I possibly can.
Music, film, theater, design, fiction, and art are more powerful than the most vehement rhetoric. They are stories. Stories are our greatest weapon, and our highest purpose. Stories teach empathy, that there are grey areas, that life is not simple. Stories cut through the talking points and hit on the themes we should know, but have been clouded by fear. Stories give us opportunities to face danger and controversy in a safe space, and learn from it before the consequences are too high. And most importantly: stories change everyone, regardless of where you live, what you believe, or who you voted for. Stories are our great unifier.
Fill your stories with what you believe. Touch us. Teach us.
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” – Edgar Degas
This I believe: Fear is lesser than love. Compassion is greater than strength. All men are created equal — including that Syrian refugee who can recite the Qur’an by heart, and that illegal Mexican immigrant who can hardly string an English sentence together, and that gay couple, and that loud, nasal-voiced woman. Freedom isn’t free, not (only) because we have to have the stomach to kill for it, but because we have to be willing to sacrifice our money, our lives, and our way of life for our highest ideals. Everyone is vulnerable. Everyone craves love and belonging. We must not let fear drive us.
I have always been, and continue to be, proud of my country and my countrymen. Even now, on a day I believe will someday be looked back upon by most Americans with shame. We are a stubborn, ingenious group. And our artists the most so.
Now is the time for cultural change through art. Now is the time to flood every TV, bookstore, cinema screen, gallery wall, theater, and street corner with stories that hit the heart and then the head, that teach patience, understanding, compassion, and love.
We’ve tried politics. If there’s anything this election has shown, it’s that fear is a cancer we’ve let spread too far. It’s time to take the soul of American into our own hands.
ARTISTS: GO CHANGE THE WORLD. We have work to do.