The Age of Information
The world ebbs and flows –or rather– fights and groans with the forces of perfection and redemption. We as humans strive to an idealism of perfection, but we need redemption when we succumb to our own human nature. In the fight for a just and peaceful world, we see that the world is not perfect by any means, and see a world in need of redemption.
For a lot of us in the justice field, there was some time in our life that revealed that the whole “life is not fair” extended past our own personal experiences and saw that the issue is worldwide where people suffer deeply. I can still remember the first time my heart felt a deep achy compassion for the world in relation to human oppression and I wanted to do something that was bigger than me. As an artist, I took to Nina Simone’s statement, “You can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.” And off I went.
I wanted to use whatever talent I had to uplift and evoke compassion in people by my sheer power to reflect social justice in my art. I dove into research like many others striving to become experts in their fields. I realized the more I continued to learn about the issue of human oppression there was a stark feeling of passion that led to uncertainty and to its dark depth of apathy. It got to the point where I threw up my hands and said. “Who cares! There is nothing we can do that can help. I can’t even help myself!”
A short time ago, my wise mother brought to light something that had gone dark inside of me. “We don’t give our money, time, or resources to those in need because it is going to be the best for them. We need to learn to give even if they don’t deserve it or throw it away. We give because it keeps our hearts tender to the pain and suffering of the world. You can raise a child perfectly and they can still throw your years of parenting away and bring pain and suffering in your life. We will never have control. But we will have compassion.”
It was as if a cloud had lifted. In the work of social justice and on the warpath to end oppression, I lost my compassion. I protected myself from the pain and suffering of my work. I thought I knew the best answers. Yes, there are better answers out there than some. But if we lose our sensitivity and heart for the issues at hand, the answers wear us down till we could care less besides being right.
I continue to find myself struggling, but I continue to revisit and revive my passions and work to reflect hope. My mission is not to find a perfect world but to live and work in a redeemed one. Scholar N.T. Wright wrote, “Art at its best draws attention not only to the way things are but also to the way things will be... That remains a surprising hope, and perhaps it will be the artists who are best at conveying both the hope and the surprise.” May the words of wisdom and the actions of the brave be the mediations of our hearts that move us toward compassion. From compassion comes change.