You may have noticed I’ve been quiet lately. My apologies- I’m in the midst of a transitional period, much like the rest of the world.
I am not a religious person. Someone once asked me what I do believe in, if not a god, many gods or some other spirituality based on the moon and the planets and their positions in the sky and their effect on your life. I had to think about it for a bit, but I realised that what I believe in is fundamental human rights – that all people should be able to live peacefully and be treated with dignity and respect as a fellow human being. That conversation was almost a decade ago, but I still believe in this principle and have since built on this thought.
I believe in the capacity for people to do good things and be kind to one another.
I believe you should treat others better than you want to be treated.
I believe that if you see a stranger sobbing you should ask them if they need a hug (but you should pick your moment).
I believe everyone should be free to pursue their own happiness, as long as they don’t harm others in the process.
I believe in body autonomy.
I believe that if you have the capacity to contribute more to society and to help others, then it’s your duty to do so.
I believe we need to do all we can to protect our environment and learn to live within it, not in spite of it.
I believe that education can change a life.
I believe that if you don’t enjoy reading you probably haven’t found the right book yet.
I believe that the arts and storytelling are far more important than they get credit for.
I believe the undervaluing of art is why people won’t pay for it – “just download it!” “I don’t want my tax dollars to pay for this!” “Can you do it for free? It’ll be great exposure!”
But I also believe, truly, that art has the power to change the world.
Social and political upheaval always inspires great artistic works. Entire genres of music were born from the struggle for equal rights and the disenfranchisement of the working class. Some of our greatest painters and writers created with a political goal.
(No, this is NOT a happy song)
A Perfect Circle (originally by John Lennon, but APC brought out an album of covers in protest of the Iraq war).
Hell, even Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” is one of their biggest hits, and that was about Vietnam.
Come to think of it, a LOT of amazing music was produced to protest the Vietnam war. “I Was Only 19” by Redgum helped to unite Australians to finally recognise the sacrifice of Vietnam veterans over a decade after they came home.
Rock and Roll, DADA, Punk Rock and the Blues were all born from the intense desire for change. It’s time for another art revolution. Even now, just 24 hours after the US election result was called, I’ve seen an astonishing amount of writers, musicians and other artists on my social media – some friends, others idols – announcing that they have become galvanised into action. They have become inspired to do what they do best – make art to protest the regressive and punitive fascism which is enveloping the world.
The Australian government are trying to pass a bill that will prohibit refugees from gaining citizenship if they arrived by boat. Britain looks poised to leave the EU. Trump has been elected president of the USA and really, nobody is entirely sure what that might mean, but white men are already acting as though they have carte blanche to abuse whoever they will.
Now is when we make art that matters. Now is when we write to reach hearts and minds. Now is when we capture and document the world. Now is when we protest bigotry, hatred and intolerance with art because art can affect the soul and by extension affect the world. We can move people on a visceral level, in a way that nothing else can.
Now we stand.
Now we create.
Now we document.
Now we shine a flaming torch into the gloom.
Now we make art.
I believe in artists.