Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving Thanks in Uncertain Times

Chesapeake Autumn - ©Theresa Grillo Laird - oil on canvas (sold)

On this Thanksgiving Day, the election is over and the country stands more divided than ever. On one side of the chasm, people fear the dark rumblings of nationalism, the legitimizing of white supremacist views and wild conspiracy theories, and a blatant hostility to a large part of the citizenry. The protection of the natural environment so important to landscape painters, is in the cross hairs.
On the other side of the divide with those who would like to roll the clock back 50 years, stands the hard working middle class who have all but disappeared with the policies and practices of the past 35-40 years. This segment of America has placed their money on the hope that the companies and shareholders who've sent their jobs overseas since the 1980's are somehow going to be persuaded to now pay a much more expensive American workforce that envisions the return of a work place minus today's automated technologies.
"Make America Great Again" has two entirely different meanings depending on which side of the divide you stand. Meanwhile our worst enemies are rubbing their hands in glee.

So, where are we artists left? Where are we, the majority of Americans, left who didn't vote for a dark vision?

I've been talking to parts of my community who have long suffered the effects of hostility and discrimination. Unlike me, they are remarkably calm. I sense a kind of patient forbearance when I hear their dignified "It'll be OK." As if they've seen the ebb and flow of years of hate filled rhetoric that many of us are just now finding ourselves face to face with. For these people and their example of strength and grace I'm thankful.

For people who continue to exercise their right to protest in the face of personal harm, like those at the Dakota Access Pipeline, I'm thankful.

For people like Pope Francis who entreat us to look at what we are doing to each other and to the earth, I'm thankful.

For leaders like Bernie Sanders who don't freeze in stunned disbelief at defeat but calmly continue forward pressing the issues that need to be addressed, I'm thankful.

For the segment of humankind that clearly sees the wrongness of policies that bring harm to each other, I'm thankful.

For everyone who provides the example of how to come together in the face of deep division, I'm thankful.

And for the gift of being an artist that enables me to see and to bring beauty into the world, I'm very thankful, and will always be thankful no matter what happens on the political stage.

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