Lead With Your he(ART)

Post election results are stirring up deep emotions, strong feelings and large protests in certain parts of the country. Such a close, hard-fought race.

There are many disappointed Americans who were counting on a different result. It’s understandable. Unwillingness to accept election results is a real thing. I think it’ll take a long time to recover from this, as it was a brutal year that had many of us running for cover, turning off our televisions and skipping the news reports to avoid hearing some of the worst things EVER to be heard in an election in our country.

I know I practice a little bit of escapism. Maybe I have my head in the clouds too much sometimes, avoiding the harshness and noise that jolts me. I educate myself, then step back and find something beautiful to fill my soul instead.

We all have the right and ability to make up our own minds, hear the facts and trust our gut. To do what we feel, and think is the right thing.

When I could bare to watch, both candidates taught us lessons and examples of what NOT to do in desperate situations. Watching their behavior at times was brave, and other times extreme and ill-mannered. If it was their own fault or their circumstances, they both reacted to protect their stance, which at times led to a candidate not standing up at all.

Everyone gets weary, reactive and protective, and missteps will happen. We get to do that in private; presidential candidates do not.

We are a country united in love and kindness and now is a time to heal and come together. What one lovely soul said to me is… “The protests in my city are scary. I’m protesting too, but with my heart.”

The old Cherokee Tale of Two Wolves comes to mind right now:

One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, “my son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “the one that you feed.”

We have a choice. Feed the Good Wolf and she’ll positively influence our behavior, habits and character. Feed the Evil Wolf and our world turns dark.

A good artist knows that it’s the negative space that defines the object, or positive space, and brings balance to a composition. A good actor knows that the tension is the force that drives the drama, however it’s the most difficult element to comprehend because you cannot see or touch it.

Say what you think, but calmly, thoughtfully, courageously, and with your whole heart. Hold the intimidation, anger and harshness. Find self-control, even on the worst of days.

Kristen and I say we come up with a reconciliation plan, not riots. Perhaps a plan that involves more ART. How wonderful that would be? Art and culture has historically brought people together across traditional barriers such as age, income, education, race, religion and political beliefs.

Visual arts, music, poetry, theatre… it builds, it unites. Our country’s foundation is rock solid. The freedom we have is a treasure. We could’ve been born anywhere, but we’re HERE. Lead with your heart through the disappointment. Use art to heal. Have common sense, stand up tall, and feed the Good Wolf.

From Rabbi Donna Berman, Executive Director, Charter Oak Cultural Center, Hartford, CT

“The power of the arts to start conversations we might not otherwise have, to sneak past our intellects and enter our souls and change our perspective is vast. The arts have this uncanny ability to circumvent politics and ideology and, therefore, fly under the radar and soar directly into our heart. The arts can sneak in beneath the defenses so rigidly held by our intellects and help us get unstuck in our ways.  Charles Bukowski said: “An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.” (YWCAhartford.org)

My kids are grown men and working in their communities these past few post-election days as they always do. But what they do everyday suddenly seems like a warm embrace—lifting others up with improvisational comedy and rescue animals. How lovely is that?! Sharing laughter and happiness, regardless of the state of the union.

Things keep moving. And we need to be there for each other with compassion, acceptance and generosity. To provide laughter, happiness, inspiration and beauty. To keep normalcy when things appear chaotic. To authentically love, care for, and be the best human beings possible. Always hoping and working towards the most significant outcomes for all.

“On this day… let us not forget what a powerful and essential tool the arts are… as they teach us profound lessons about the most important art of all, the art of being human.”
(Rabbi Donna Berman, How the Arts Brings People Together)

Joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

I like to feed the Good Wolf and we all should try.