To all my fellow artists, I give you Occupy Microphone.
When I returned to university for my masters degree, I suddenly found myself quietly, politely, and firmly silenced. As a Christian in the arts, I was perceived as a danger. No one was ever rude, but there was simply no room for debate, no desire to consider an issue: only the unspoken injunction to conform or remain silent.
I hadn't realized how much this silencing was affecting me until one day in class my professor brought in an array of items for us to choose and use in a theatrical exercise. I was immediately drawn to a set of delicate windchimes which I let jangle while we all waited for further instruction.
When, suddenly, from somewhere in the circle a fellow student called out irritably: "Will whoever has the windchimes SHUT THEM UP?"
Immediately, I grasped the windchimes, closing them in my hand and hiding them. A moment before they had been making beautiful, communal, chaotic music - now they were deadened. And by my hand.
I realized at that instant that I felt like those windchimes. Particularly as a theatre artist who depends upon the harmony of chaos and control in creating live performances, who had previously spent her days debating the deeper, harder issues with her students in theology class where everything was discussed - I now was silenced.
And I had silenced myself.
Art does not need to be directly confrontational. But it does need to open up debate. Art does not need to fully, philosophically point to all answers, but it needs to open up the path to them. An artist who is silent has nothing to say, and does no one any good. An artist must speak up: speak hope, speak truth, speak beauty.
Speak up, artists. Debate. Converse. Challenge.
Man will be saved by beauty. ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Coraggio! ~ Pope John Paul II, First speech as Pope 1978
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is
right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if
anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. ~ St. Paul, Philippians 4:8