from Artistic Director David Buchbinder…
We are at a crossroads. With the election of Donald Trump capping a year of Brexit, walls and fences, fear and anger, a growing rejection of refugees, immigrants, and minorities of all kinds and a retreat into mono-cultural reaction, it is time for us to act. Those of us who value the richness of complex social, cultural and creative diversity must begin to work, individually and collectively, to not only protect the existing space of cross-cultural existence and exchange but to also open new channels and develop new methods to strengthen our capacity to live the lives we wish for. It is time to build a strong, flexible web of active relationship as both an antidote to fear and as a claim on the future.
It is exactly in the moment when forces of reaction and–yes–darkness are being unleashed and a creeping, race-based fascism is beginning to be normalized that we must stand not only against these developments but for something. And among the greatest values we say we stand for is the embrace of diversity. Now I have some specific thoughts about what diversity really means, and I’ll get to that in my next post. But for now, let us agree that at a minimum the embrace of diversity is predicated on a commitment to creating connections across boundaries. Any and all of them: culture, language, gender, class, religion, political affiliation, life experience. At any time, creating and experiencing these connections (which it must be said are always connections first and foremost between individuals, and then among groups, in real time and space), is a rewarding, enriching experience. In such times as are upon us, these experiences are essential.
Why? Because the first thing that the experience of connection across boundaries creates is warmth. It is the warmth of identification as we experience our struggles, joys, sorrows and challenges and triumphs as being common to all of us; it is the warmth of knowing that we have–even momentarily–opened up a space of trust with each other and within a group. We see and are seen, and this is a gift we can share, easily. And at a time when there are people and forces who seek to divide us, (because it is only through division that they gain their power, and who have a plan to exploit the fear of the unknown), it is on each of us to build a space of freedom and open exploration of not only who we are within our richly complex ecosystem, but of what we can create together.
Yes, we must challenge these negative forces in every instance and especially where we live, and we must protect those who are most vulnerable, while insisting on our fundamental equality. But that is not enough. We must also protect and expand the space where each person can discover their unique voice, where we can learn together and where we can create, as we bring something new and life-affirming into the world.
That is a radical act, indeed.