I’ve struggled with the question of how much to write here. I have students and potential customers not to alienate, and the need to make a living can push us towards the generic and the safe. But not long ago I chose to use this page as a place to share my thoughts and art in a genuine way, and drawing the line at the reality of what is going on in our world would mean cutting off a big part of who I am, and I’m trying so hard these days to be honest; to be all there.
That’s what the singing is about, that’s what the book and all my teaching and leading is about, and that’s what I say to my students everyday: bring your whole self to this. Express yourself, trust yourself. Take a chance and don’t worry about what the world says you’re good or bad at. Step out and learn. Reach in and play. I’m trying to follow my own advice here.
And what I’m feeling now is complicated. I want to go back to sleep and not feel scared. But I’m also clear that this is the time to come together and be smart and strong, both within myself and in my community — to make strategic choices and take action. And mostly, I don’t want to retreat into the feeling that I’m living among enemies. And that particular thing is what I’ve been thinking about most.
I cannot go into Dunkin Donuts for a cup of coffee and look around suspiciously at everyone I don’t know and think of them as evil or dangerous, or feel that they are looking at me with hate or distain. I mean I can for a few days, I guess. But then it’s got to change. This is no way to be and it’s not the world I want to live in. It’s also doing exactly the dangerous and bad thing that I imagine they’re doing: it’s looking at other people with prejudice. Thinking you know who someone is when you don’t.
There are certainly haters out there, and they’re certainly coming out of the fucking woodwork like crazy, but I don’t think (or can’t think) that most people are like that.
Is this how it felt to the other side when Democrats won the presidency, house and senate in 2008 —that their values and rights were in imminent danger? Was our celebration and joy like a poison fume to them? Because that’s how I feel. The big difference as I see it is that we don’t tend to carry guns, and we mostly espouse mostly love and acceptance. And I can see that the implication in that sentence is that they are violent and espouse intolerance and hate. But is that true? Obviously yes in some cases. But maybe not to the degree that I fear, and maybe not at all for the person standing behind me in line at Dunkin Donuts.
When I teach singing I say, “Be curious.” “Explore.” To take that stance around this doesn’t have to contradict working for justice, or taking action from a place of outrage — which I think is absolutely necessary.
For my own sake I need to have conversations with people who think differently than I do and to ask them why. It makes me very nervous, in a lot of ways, but I think I’ll try it anyway. And I’m guessing if more of us do this, it will do more good than harm. I think I can do this and fight the good fight.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.