Current word count, as at 10 November 2016: 23,092/50,000 words. I’m doing way better on word count this time around, as compared to previous years. It’s quite exciting!
It’s Thursday morning here in Melbourne and I think that like a lot of the rest of the world who followed the US elections with considerable interest, I am reeling a little from the results. While at first glance it may seem odd to Americans that the rest of the world has a vested interest in the results of their domestic politics, it really does – for better or worse – have an effect on other countries. As the votes came in and Trump looked more likely to be the winner, the Australian dollar’s value took a huge nosedive. In many ways our economy is intrinsically entwined with decisions of the bigger allied countries. I hope the American results don’t have an adverse effect on our day-to-day lives on the opposite side of the planet -but in a political and social climate increasingly hostile to ethnic minorities, religious minorities, Indigenous people, the poor, the female, the LGBTQI+, the rural, the mentally ill, the elderly, and the young (basically, anyone who isn’t a male of working age) – America’s decision will, I imagine, have a confidence-boosting effect on the toxic brew of ideologies coming into our own nation.
Here in Australia we currently have a right wing, white-centric, overtly masculine, anti-refugee, anti-Indigenous, anti-environment government with a strong presence from Australian ultra right wing parties so a number of our politicians are celebrating the Trump win as reflective of their own perspectives.
While I would never presume to tell people for whom they should vote, especially when they live in a completely different country, I know that for my online acquaintances, friends and family in the USA, a lot of them are in mourning and grief over the results of the election.
In times when social upheaval and threats of war loom on the horizon, and despair seems to rule the day, the creative arts can seem to be really insignificant. I don’t have the time right now to research and write an essay on the purpose of arts, I do know that when I write, I am a better human being. When I draw, I feel at peace. When I listen to music that uplifts my soul, I am at peace with the world. And I think, on a very core level, that great social change must be effected at the individual and societal level.
So while the world debates dualistic politics and humans of all walks of life fight our ego games for supremacy in our mortal fleeting existence, I want to share this piece of music that is easily one of the most moving, beautiful, heartbreaking songs I have heard in a long time: an Assyrian priest named Father Serafim and others, in the country of Georgia, singing a chant from Psalm 53 in the Aramaic language, for an audience that included Pope Francis. Aramaic is the language that Jesus would have spoken in His day. Let the music like this speak to our souls and move us, let our stories tell of a better world, let our art confront the establishment. Keep creating, fellow creatives. Your voices matter.
And another thought, one I recall reading years ago, was from C. S. Lewis, and I understood it to mean that the arts, literature and learning continue to be valuable, regardless of the times of war or peace that surround it. I think that in times of despair, no matter the source of despair, it is a good reminder that some things in life a worthy of our attention and persistence. For me, that means I write, I draw, I play music, I plant flowers, all while not knowing what the future holds.
“War makes death real to us, and that would have been regarded as one of its blessing by most of the great Christians of the past. They thought it good for us to be always aware of our mortality. I am inclined to think they were right. All the animal life in us, all schemes of happiness that centred in this world, were always doomed to a ﬁnal frustration. In ordinary times only a wise man can realise it. Now the stupidest of us knows. We see unmistakably the sort of universe in which we have all along been living, and must come to terms with it. If we had foolish un-Christian hopes about human culture, they are now shattered. If we thought we were building up a heaven on earth, if we looked for something that would turn the present world from a place of pilgrimage into a permanent city satisfying the soul of man, we are disillusioned, and not a moment too soon. But if we thought that for some souls, and at some times, the life of learning, humbly offered to God, was, in its own small way, one of the appointed approaches to the Divine reality and the Divine beauty which we hope to enjoy hereafter, we can think so still.” – C. S. Lewis (1939) – ‘Learning in War-Time’