Why I’m an Artist (and Not a Politician)

by Esther Emery

I just broke up with the Daily Kos.  It was never a very honest relationship.  “There are some things about you that I don’t like, but I’m pretending to ignore them.”  This morning I got dressed and went straight to the computer.  Unsubscribe.  “It isn’t you.  It’s me.”

I don’t like the finger pointing.  I don’t like the categorical blame.  I don’t like the comparisons.  I don’t like the constant passing of judgement from self-appointed thrones that used to be IKEA couches and particle board desks.  I don’t like the systematic devaluing of our human candidates – the devolution of a human being into percentage points and sound bytes and unforgivable mistakes.

But that’s the game, right?  That’s politics.  

I get it.  I do.  I get it, but I cannot live it.  

I want to believe in the future.  I want to believe that our devastating legacy of racism and sexism is fading as the seasons turn, that our divisive past becomes less prominent as our nation’s children cultivate an ever expanding plot of shared ground.

I don’t know if I was always this sensitive, or if my work as an artist has made me so.  But I can’t carry the grief anymore.  I can’t carry the petty anger.  One blogger tears down the arguments of another.  A comment dehumanizes the perspective of the comment before.  Sexism and racism are words weighed on gram scales, even as our ubiquitous media continues to broadcast intolerable incidences of both.  The battle comes into my sleep.  It makes me restless.  I find myself wearing an attitude of judgment that is counterproductive to the creation of meaningful art.  

Today, the best thing I can do for my country is to turn off the blogs and go back to rehearsal.

Theater is synonymous with conflict.  Everyone who has ever been in rehearsal knows that.  The first questions asked in a rehearsal process are, “What do you (the character) want?”  And “Who is in your way?” Our chosen medium is uniquely suited to engender dialogue across barriers of culture, race and class, because someone on that stage is fighting for something.  It’s what you came to watch.  And that means someone on that stage is fighting back.  By articulating both sides of relevant conflict, I choose to value the fight.  For our nation, I value the fight for a new future.  The fight for respect.  For opportunity.  For hope.  And for a redistribution of political and economic power.  I do not devalue that effort.  I do not tear it down.

I offer my gratitude to Hillary for standing tall in a den of lions, although I grieve that she has long ago lost herself in the fray.  And to her Democratic opponent, I offer my hope for the future of our country.  My hope for healing.  Please rise above the blood in our heritage, the fear in our hearts, and the poison in our political dialogue.

Disclaimer: Any expression of political point of view belongs solely to the author, Esther Emery, and not to MOXIE Theatre or any other employees or sponsors of MOXIE Theatre.

Un-disclaimer:  MOXIE Theatre believes in the artist as activist. That means we do articulate our politics.  We do have the courage to take a stand.  And every element of our work reflects that.  If you’d like to participate in the conversation, leave us a comment.