Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Who Am I?

Writers are artists. Our medium is words. And as artists, we have to ask ourselves, “Who am I?” What defines me? What role do I choose to play in my art? Am I a Maurice Chevalier or an Edith Piaf? Am I a Glen Campbell or a Tommy Smothers?
During World War II, Maurice Chevalier decided he was an entertainer and it was not his role to do other than entertain, even if it was for those who had overrun his country. After the war, some Frenchmen accused Chevalier of collaboration, which he denied. Edit Piaf was an active member of the Resistance. Obviously, she was not found out, for she would have paid a far more serious price than Tommy Smothers.
During the Vietnam conflict, Glen Campbell decided he was an entertainer and it was not his role to take part in the politics of pro or anti-war factions. Tommy Smothers decided otherwise. Tommy paid for that decision. His TV show was cancelled. For his activism, he gained some fans and he lost others. And for his decision, Campbell gained some fans and lost others.
In these days when the trumpery seems to get worse by the minute, artists must also ask themselves “Who am I?” And in asking that question, I am reminded of the words of Martin Luther King, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it, is really cooperating with it.”
I believe in the power of words to place people in positions where they can change their own minds about something. I believe, as the psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl--who survived the Nazi death camps to write some of the most positive psychology the world has ever seen-- pointed out, you cannot make anyone do anything they truly do not want to do. “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Choice always intervenes. So I choose.
I'm done with trying to not alienate Trump supporters. Time is up. I'm done with that. The man is deeply disturbed and objectively reprehensible. His condition is worsening, and as long as he remains in power, our nation is in jeopardy.
If you choose not to see that, it's time to think long and hard about what that says about you, who you choose to be. To my mind, anything that can be destroyed by truth, should be destroyed. In my writing I will continue to speak the truth. Silence in the face of evil is collaboration.

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