The Machine of Disobedience
This piece is part of a blog salon, curated by Caridad Svich, called "Stages of Resistance." The series welcomes reflections on themes related to making work for live performance in political and aesthetic resistance to forms and systems that oppress human rights and censor or severely limit freedom of expression. We are in increasingly hostile, volatile times around the world, and this salon hopes to serve as a space for considered, thoughtful, polemical articulations of practice and theory on the subject of resistance, the multiple meanings of political art, and the ways in which progressive, wholistic cultural change may be instigated through artworks. Stay tuned for more articles and reflections in this series throughout March and April 2017!
I’ve never been much of an activist.
I love the idea of civil disobedience. Standing up to the “man” and showing him that he can’t keep me down.
But, rarely do I do something big or explosive or demonstrative.
I have moments when I get angry about a situation or I see an injustice in my world and I have to say or do something about it. But, usually they are small interactions throughout the day or weeks or months, nothing really reverberating or world changing. The act lies in shifting perceptions or confronting a small ignorant bias.
I’ve marched a few times, written plays against this or that, spoken here and there, trying to find a way to express what needs to be expressed in hopes of some kind of awareness to those who are listening or should be listening. But, if I’m being honest, those actions are more about me than the actual subject matter and that is a problem, I think. I don’t want it to be about me but I convince myself that my opinion is necessary if there is going to be an expression of thought or a display of resistance in whatever forms it manifests itself.
Am I always passionate about the subject? No. Yes. Sometimes.
Am I swept up in the kind of rage that causes me to storm the streets and fight the good fight with signs or spray painted shirts or rocks or Molotov cocktails? No. Yes. I wish. Someday. Soon? Maybe. Who knows?
I understand who I am. I never really been that kind of guy. Not yet at least.
It’s not because I don’t care. I do. I worry about the world we live in. I get hit in the gut every morning when I turn on my phone and it’s inundated with the shit storm that’s happening that day.
I make my children breakfast and I hope that when they grow up and look back at this moment in time they will find it as an error in judgment. Our differences were more about a need to connect with one another. We were filled with fear and hopelessness but we didn’t have the tools or the language on how to resolve it instead of what it currently feels like it is: a bile of hate filled with fuck yous and go to hells. I hope for that. I fight for that. That means something to me.
I think it’s important to see how one fits in the machine of disobedience.
There are many forms of resistance.
I have found mine in surprising ways. I do realize that on a day to day, I live a privileged existence. My revolts are tied to tapping words into whatever social media platform I’m on. Aggressively stating my automotive position when someone is cutting me off in a Lexus or a Beamer or Jag.
I fight for people of color being represented in all forms of characterization on TV whenever I can. I continue to write plays about people being people even though the American Theater expects me to write the “Latinx” play because it will fit their season better.
But I see what this world is. We are a divided nation.
We believe we’re right. They believe they’re right. And the truth is somewhere in between and it’s our job as artists to find it.
So what is my form of resistance?
Trying to locate that specific feeling or moment or experience or thought that can speak to a truth in what it means to be human.
And it’s not so much a resistance towards the status quo or 45 and his policies or the hate that has risen from the ignorant ashes that fill me with anger but in fighting those thoughts from having an impact on the words and in the work.
I have to resist my opinion if I want to dive into a deeper understanding of what we are all experiencing. Because truth be told, I don’t want to walk in the other side’s shoes. I don’t want to feel what it’s like to be in their skin, wearing their fears and their tears on my body. That kind of understanding sucks.
I know there’s a bridge. I know there’s a goodness that will link us all one day. That’s something to fight for. That’s something I can wrap my head around.
I will continue to tap away on my keys and speak up when I can. But I will also force myself to investigate without opinion and hopefully, walk that bridge toward something bigger than me. Something beyond the horizon. It’s my civic artistic duty to try to understand what that is and share it without expectations.
I guess I’m an activist after all…