Saturday, October 8, 2011

Political Shadows

I am not a particularly politically minded person. Meaning: I don't follow the daily news on who said what to whom and who is denying or apologizing for saying something they "didn't mean".  I generally don't talk about politics in my social circles or at work where I teach.  But, every once in a while, I get a hankering to dive in and see what I can discern from all that is American politics.

Unfortunately, this time around the investigation made just as depressed as it has in the past.  (And, I mean I really am experiencing some symptoms of depression, and I think it might be due to my recent political undertakings. NOT a good sign.)

Because I don't really have time to devote to researching the political scene and the historical background, I don't feel confident in discussing politics with many people.  I often feel that I simply don't know enough to make political decisions at all, so when voting time comes around, I struggle. I know lot of wonderful and smart people from both major parties as well as a smattering from the libertarian, green and independent alternatives.  I see their passion and conviction. I witness their care for the people around them and the health of their world.  I believe they all mean well.  I know they all believe they have the best answers and solutions. 

I mostly stay quiet or ask basic questions on their understandings but never make declarations of my own.  It seems to keep my personal interactions healthiest while I get more information to unobtrusively file away in my rusty mental file cabinet of national politics. 

I write about this only because, this occasional hankering to connect with the political world inevitably makes me a little sad and makes me wonder what I could possible do about it.  I try to stay unaffected, but I am too sensitive to steel myself from the conflict I see and feel in the political arena.  I see people shouting at each other, frustrated, angry, and defensive, and I can't help but recoil from the whole situation.  I can't watch smart people turned into animals fighting over the last scraps of a carcass. 

I realized today that I feel powerless in politics.  That's probably why I donate to charities like Heifer International instead of political campaigns.  I mistrust politicians, and mistrust is not something I experience very often. I am really a rose-colored-glasses type of person so when it comes to distrusting politicians (while it doesn't seem outrageous to most) it does to me.  I fear double talk and pandering at every turn.  I see everything as a potential stratagem for reelection rather than a choice of integrity and values.   I suspect everyone of making deals like I saw on the West Wing.  "I will give you this, if you give me that."  "Compromise" done behind doors and for political gain. 

I do vote. I do encourage my students to vote. But, as a constituent, I don't feel heard, and I don't have the wealth or clout to buy my way into being heard. 

The only way I feel empowered is knowing that when I teach my classroom of students, I can encourage them to live with integrity.  I can encourage my students to be strong, independent thinking individuals who make choices that maintain their integrity and the integrity of others.  Honest. True. Just. Compassionate.

As far as dance and the arts. I want to know:  Where is the Kurt Joss of our time choreographing "The Green Table"? Where are the dances of protest from the 60's? Where is our Doris Humphrey and her "New Dance."  The arts have become an escape from reality. And, I like everyone, love that dance can be an escape from the demands, drudgery and disappointments of life.  But, I want a Josephine Baker who wouldn't dance in a club because it was segregated.  Bill T Jones is here and for him, I am grateful. Perhaps there are others I just can't think of right now. But, what I see on TV, in dance films and the touring repertory of many major companies is missing the mark. 

I see is how the performing arts can't make enough money to get by and make ends meet when they deal with these difficult and controversial issues. They can't take a stand because they can't afford to alienate their audience.  We (the audience) don't seem to want to pay for anything but entertainment.  Times are tough and we want the break.  I know I do. But then every once in a while, like this week, like tonight, I regret my choices and I feel ashamed. 

I have not lived up to my own expectations and my own standard of integrity.  When I see audiences stay home for the risky politically or socially minded work, I see myself not coming out and supporting the risk takers.   I don't even know where the risk takers are right now. 

I want a choreographer to make a dance that chills me to the bone. I want to see a dance or hear a song or a discover painting that dives in and calls the country to action, that wakes me and the rest of my block out of our slumber.  I want this piece of art to be so powerful that we as a country are ashamed of our collapse away from integrity, unity, patriotism and confidence in each other and have no choice but pull together and interact with the highest level of respect, trust and belief in one another.

I believe in people, and I want people to believe in one another a heck of a lot more than they seem to right now.  I don't like feeling sad about the state of affairs in this country. I would much rather write about horses on a hike or the joys of marriage or teaching.  But tonight I only see these political shadows cast over me.

I don't know if I am the one to make this dance I am talking about.  I am not even sure what such a dance would look like or what exactly it would need to say.  But, it has to be out there. 

In the meantime, I will keep at the daily grind with one eye out for an answer. 

Maybe there is a resolution just beyond the hill.

Maybe it is just around the corner.

Maybe I can learn to trust that integrity can be reinstalled.

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