What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

02 March 2017

Tell the Best Story

I seem to find a lot of use
for this photo.
I'm kind of a halfhearted podcast listener, because most of my hobbies are ones that engage my brain in such a way that I can't turn on a podcast at the same time and really give attention to what I'm listening to. However, when I remember, I start my day with Theater People (I know you're all surprised to hear that). Last weekend I listened to the interview with Kevin McCollum, who produced (among many, many others) Rent, Something Rotten, In the Heights, Motown the Musical... a whole bunch of things I like, in other words.

Towards the end, he said something that took my breath away with its depth of truth and I had to lie down just to absorb what he'd said. (See? This is why I'm not good at listening to podcasts.) And then write it down to share with you. This interview was last summer, before the election, but has only grown more relevant in the intervening months. (Emphasis is mine.)
When you take arts out of the public schools, those young people grow up to be adults, and they look at conflict resolution only in a sports model. And that's what we're seeing in our government. We have three branches of government, it's a balance of how we tell the best story, and that's called a collaborative art form. Our government is a collaborative art form. Unfortunately, when many of the people running our country were younger, arts were not valued in their communities, because of money. But sports were. So what do you learn in sports? To win games, you have to have a good defense. We are running this country purely on defensive tactics. We have to start having an imaginative storytelling: how do we live better as a world? America used to have the best story. If we're in a sports model, we're not telling a story. We're just trying to beat each other. Let's stop that. Let's get back to storytelling. Let's collaborate, because collaboration creates the bottom line, not money.
 He's not wrong, y'all. Not only is all this mentality of winning at all costs bringing us gridlock and wasted resources, not only is it contributing to the deep ideological divides that keep people from even having reasonable conversations with one another, but it's also only spurring folks to dig in to their positions even deeper and lob ever nastier shots at the other side. This is why the arts matter--why literature and music and painting and theatre and sculpture are worth our while. Because they expand our minds and open us up to other ways and ideas and points of view. Because they hold a mirror up to our humanity. Because they connect us to other people. Because they ask us to tell a story.

This project at the Guggenheim was meant to be
books that were never written. Don't let that be you.
Write your part of the story.
I had an incredible literature class my senior year of high school, and I couldn't even tell you the name of it or what the theme was now, but I do remember this: by the end of the semester, our teacher pointed out that as a result of the works we'd read and the discussions we'd had, every member of the class had come to see ourselves as artists. (She had asked for a show of hands to this effect on the first and last days of class.) This was the gift she gave us, as newly minted adults about to make our way in the wide world: she invited us to join in the great story of humanity and write our part.

I should look her up and send her a thank you.

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