I know it has been a couple of weeks! Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for coming back 🙂 I thought I’d begin with two topics that always bring people together! I know better (usually) than to start this conversation among friends, at a family gathering or casually at a bar. Since this is the internet, if my ideas offend you at any time, you can storm out of the party and I will never know! Isn’t that awesome!? Indulge me, friends.
Berliners have become very interested in American politics over the last few months for obvious reasons. Fortunately, and unfortunately, I have had many opportunities to discuss, dissect and analyze the US election results. German citizens are, not surprisingly, very informed about our political climate, the system, and the issues involved. They usually begin with, “If it’s not too difficult for you, I’d like to talk about it”. The German people are exceedingly polite, and they choose their words carefully so the idea that Donald Trump will become the leader of the free world does not compute for them. As disappointed as I am about the election, I am not entirely surprised given the pulse of the rest of the world at the moment. Brexit was a shock to many people including Britain, and Germany has a surge of German nationalists and fiscal conservatives who oppose Merkel’s decisions on the refugee crisis.
I am an independent voter. My views don’t align completely with any one party which makes voting particularly stressful and time consuming. Everything was so much easier when I didn’t ask questions! (I have my husband, NPR and the University of Michigan to thank for that). I am also a Christian. In a room full of artists this word is more offensive than pretty much any other word in the english dictionary. My faith is based on the teachings of a man who showed the world how to love and forgive, but there will always be people who prioritize other parts of the Bible. Jesus asked us to love God and each other. For me, that’s all there is to it. I am grateful for this guidance in my life.
When our focus is not on being heard but on learning something, constructive conversation becomes possible. It can happen when people of different opinions and backgrounds show respect towards one another and take an interest in what the other person can bring to the table. That’s obvious, but all of us have been in arguments, and this kind of problem-solving isn’t easy. Taking that first step towards bipartisanship when there is equal passion and concern on both sides of the aisle, is difficult, but it is how our founding fathers envisioned the process, and I still believe in it. It was this belief that ultimately determined my vote for Hillary Clinton. I voted for her for the same reason that many independents voted for her: not because I think she’s the best woman for the job (I can think of a number of women I would have rather supported) but because she was the better choice on a ballot that would not have been possible in my wildest dreams. Although I do believe actions speak louder than words, I also believe that words hold weight and, like the Germans, I think that choosing language carefully is a sign of strength, not weakness. I think it can bring people together or further divide them. Our president-elect has not chosen his words carefully and he therefore bears responsibility for empowering not only racists, bigots and misogynists, but a group of people who don’t embrace dialogue- who don’t have an interest in engaging people that aren’t like them. He has empowered this on both sides of the aisle and as a proud American it has been disgusting and heart breaking to watch.
So as artists, what can we do? Let our work build bridges. Music really is a universal language. I hope that I can find a way to connect, through my art, with people who don’t see the world exactly the way I do. I hope I can start constructive conversations about religion, politics and anything else that drives the human narrative. I hope I can make art that is relevant…time to brainstorm!
Thanks for reading! Sending love from this great city. The Weinachtsmarkts (Christmas Markets) open this weekend. I’ll give you the scoop next week.