Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Call to Art...


Sitting here, tears in my eyes, I can feel my heart quivering as the news of this terrible tragedy unfolds.

Children.  27 dead, and 18 of them were children. I'm still hoping that those numbers that are being so widely reported are gross exaggeration, 

***

That is as far as I got with the initial post I wast going to write.  Because before I was able to finish, before the news was updated to show that in fact 20 of those killed were children, my life happened...my own children - living, breathing, bickering still - interrupted and took my attention away, and I couldn't be more grateful for the fact that they are able to do so.  Or the fact of their mere existence, for that matter. When I remember to be grateful, I don't mind the interruptions in the least.  In this moment, I am ecstatically happy that I am unable to get anything done.

I know many people are beginning to feel over saturated and sick, despite the import of the conversations, and I am no exception:  My brain can't handle any more input from this just now.  Maybe it's because I'm so recently post-partum that I'm taking this so hard, or maybe it's because James and I had briefly considered taking our children back to his childhood home - in fairfield county, CT...or maybe it's just being a parent.  I cannot imagine...every time I think of these events, my empathy tries on the shoes of those parents, those kids, and my whole being shrinks back like a wounded animal and my brain shuts down...it's like PTSD, but it didn't happen to me at all.  If this is how horribly debilitatingly painful it is to me - a complete outsider, with no meaningful connections to the victims - then how, HOW, could any parent survive this? I cannot fathom.

My friend Sam responded to a post on my Facebook wall referring to this as an "extremely dark, relatively new kind of American violence" and asking "what is wrong with us? where does this come from?"

I think those are the questions just about everyone is grappling with right now.  Mostly, people are getting political about it, calling for immediate policy change, arguing about gun control, mental health, family values, the media, cultural glorifications, economic disparity...people from every side of all these arguments calling those on the other idiots, failing to effectively communicate and letting their passionate anger justify relatively shallow thinking...and part of my burnout on the topic comes, I think, from the realization of this, its futility, and the understanding that the truth - the real, underlying web of causes that led to these horrific events - is probably so vast and so complex that no single action or call to attention is going to make a dent in the issue anytime soon.

People often ask me if its weird to be in a relationship where each individual is on opposite sides of the spectrum in terms of careers - the artist vs tax lawyer paradigms - and answering that question has helped me to refine my understanding of the important symbiosis that exists between art and policy when it comes to making a tangible difference.  

So far the only place of true, clear understanding I've found in all this can be summed up in the answer I gave to my friend from our time as budding hippie art-makers off in the woods:

"I have no idea Sam, but I think its part of our job as artists to figure it out, and confront it, put it out there to make people think, so the problem can eventually be addressed and fixed."


On the last day of my 28th year, I am reminded of why I do what I do.