Here in America, we welcomed our annual birthday celebration and the 50th anniversary of the moon landing this month. We honored the stars and stripes, both on our turf and hanging out somewhere on the moon.
It’s hard to live in America and not feel overcome with the hype around the Fourth. The mid-summer heat swells, backyard barbecues crop up, and suddenly when you’re filled up with potato salad and sunshine, America seems like an all right place to be. Maybe even a good place to be. After all, we are celebrating our freedom, aren’t we?
Well, kind of.
In truth, there are many people in this country that haven’t experienced the same level of freedom I have and you may have. Marginalized communities often have to battle for basic human rights, on top of immigrants struggling in detention camps at the border and young, innocent black men killed in their neighborhoods everyday. Freedom is a virtue, but it doesn’t belong to everyone.
Our Founding Fathers created a document to govern us. This document was the result of their collective hopes and imagination, their vision of what America could be like. The problem is that somewhere along the way, we constricted those ideals down to the version that was manageable, obtainable within narrow parameters. Let’s face it: It’s easier to govern a massive, diverse country if the powerful can snuff out the power of most.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though. I know it doesn’t. In my heart, I know that authentic creativity—the same creative spark that guided our forefathers—is the answer. It’s time we stop reaching for the moon and explore our internal landscape. We can’t face our collective pain until we take a hard look at our own, and then and only then can we transmute it into something beautiful. Let’s be brave enough to look inside and create until our wounds have closed up. Then let’s create even more until we lift others up by the hope threaded through our work.
If we can envision our art, we can envision the future of this country. We can use our paints and our words and our voice to change our current trajectory. Power lies in our ability to connect through vision and hope and honor. Just how the Fathers did it. We can do it again.
While my usual columns here at Harness are filled with neat little tips and tricks, I can’t help but feel like we need a spark more than the Sparknotes version of how to make art. This is more of a calling than a culled list, the Bat Signal for all sensitive souls.
Be brave, soft heart. Do it for your country.
Not because you condone what’s happening and not even because you’re proud of it. But because you’re the one who can create a better future for you, for me, for all, so that one day everyone will know what it means to be truly free.