As terrorists destroy not only human life, but the cultural history of, in essence, all humanity, there is only one thing that comes to my mind. Which is that we must fight warriors with Warriorship.
Because we are at war in these days.
That war is taking place in locations such as the blood-soaked terra of Syria, and Yemen, yes. But when we look in shock and horror at what is being done by ISIS, can we also look to our own society and see where we engage in the destruction of Life’s value? Can we acknowledge the multitudes of children who go to bed starving or whose minds don’t develop with the privilege of education as an inequity that is also a dismissal of our collective value? Can we recognize that, in our mechanized cruelty to animals in science laboratories and in factory farms, we are saying that we have no regard for the sanctity of the miracle of Life which flows through them.
We live at a time when, in a myriad of efficient and effective ways, many lives are being sacrificed and destroyed for the benefit of a few, for the belief of a few. Lines are being drawn physically, economically, socially and philosophically and war is declared on multiple fronts.
This violence against ourselves and our world disassociates us from experiencing the intimate knowledge of connectivity that allows for fulfilling our capacity for true progress and development.
Because of this, I have come to believe and understand that celebrating the sacredness of life is the most powerful social and political statement that can be made right now.
The process of becoming an artist takes years of training in order to become an expressive, creative instrument. It requires trust in self, trust in your collaborators and your public. It invites an energy toward the readiness for something unexpected and, surely, beautiful and uplifting to happen through a collective experience.
And then it does.
It does when we come together in a theatre, when we stand in front of a painting or sculpture and receive what was created for us . . . any conversation between the creator and the receiver is a sacred act.
And sacred acts are our call to battle. This is why I believe so deeply that the only way out of this darkness is to create an corps of warriors who celebrate Life. Warriorship defined through the artist and the artistic process.
With the destruction of the 3,000 year old archeological site of Nimrud, the director general of UNESCO called the action a ‘war crime’ that should be taken up in International Criminal Court.
And she is right, it is a war crime. But this war requires masters of culture and of life, not soldiers with military hardware or the ‘impartial’ arm of justice to imprison the perpetrators. Because the long term view of victory will require that we embrace a better understanding of who and what we are, and from that understanding take action and render justice.
I envision a world guided by young artists who understand that all lives are imperative. Warriors that understand they cannot train, create or work in a void because they are needed and necessary in the public spaces of this moment of human history. Their education and their work process should include another element contemporarily integral to becoming an artist: community engagement and social service. Their Warriorship is the training to stand in the face of this violence and devastation and be a fully creative, expressive and celebratory human being regardless.
And, in doing so, remind us that we are – all – the same as well.
This, to my mind, is the only way we will win this war.
This, to my mind, is the only way we will win our human magnificence, sanity and dignity back from both the terrorists and the terrorism of our own societies and our world.