I’ve been thinking today about the power of emotion and how important emotional connection is both with ourselves and each other. If we cut ourselves off from our emotions we are dead. Dead to feeling what we feel, dead to sensing the feelings of others. Empathy dies and the world becomes a more violent place.
This line of thought led me back to one of the essential functions of artists: reconnecting the world to emotion. We are the conduits for getting people back to themselves, to experiencing their feelings which allows them to treat themselves with sensitivity and thus treat others with sensitivity. This makes the world a better, richer, more compassionate, more beautiful place.
When we sensitize ourselves in this world we risk being overwhelmed. How can you buy clothes that were manufactured by small children in Bangladesh on starvation wages? If you think about it when you buy, it it’s incredibly difficult. Trying to source an entire life in a non-violent manner is nearly impossible.
I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to be a vegetarian. Because my body does not do well on a largely carb-based diet, it doesn't work for me. So giving up, this morning at a neighborhood restaurant I ordered something I would normally - an omelet. On my plate in addition to eggs were ham, cheese and a side of potatoes. As I sat there looking at the plate I thought about the poor pigs who are as intelligent as my dog and what kind of life they might’ve had and then I thought about the migrant workers who might have dug the potatoes out of the ground and I wondered about the kind of life they had. I could go on thinking about the cows tied to milking machines all day. Then I found myself almost in tears over breakfast. I realized, in a truly compassionate, higher vibration world, my breakfast would not be a plate of violence.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg reminds us that even though we are in a backslide politically, things are better than they used to be when it was legislated that women could be paid less than men and African-Americans could be legally discriminated against. These things still happen, but at least the laws have changed. So even though we still don’t live in an emotional, compassionate world, there is progress.
That’s where we as artists come in. To speed the progress. To allow people to connect with their emotions so that they become empathetic and treat animals, children and the more vulnerable populations with dignity and care. Because when we treat ourselves with dignity and care we are able to extend that out to others. So while I can’t be a full-on vegetarian or vegan at this point, I have stopped eating cows which makes me feel slightly better.
So in a time where we have a more brutal administration than I ever imagined in my lifetime and compassion and human dignity are short on the ground, our role as artists is more important than ever.
Personally, I am beginning to understand the power and necessity of having emotional connections in all of my relationships: business, friends, family, lovers, neighbors, even strangers. There is the opportunity to make a connection. Without it the relationships are dry, hollow, self-interested and ultimately destructive.