“The opposite of war isn’t peace – it’s creation.”
This quote – from the musical Rent – has been in my head a lot in recent days. It’s because of the incomprehensible act of violence perpetrated on humanity in Orlando this past weekend. Being in the creative field and living in New York, I’ve been surrounded and inundated by a lot of extreme fear and anger surrounding that despicable incident. It seems people (me included) are so geographically displaced from the incident, yet hit so emotionally hard by it, we find ourselves at a loss with what to do. And a lot of what we do is just get mad – darkness breeds darkness.
As a matter of fact, there seems to be an general ugly air of anger everywhere these days. A quick scan of my Facebook feed reveals a steady stream of “I’m right – you’re wrong”, “Don’t vote for him/her – they’re a fascist, liar, bigot, etc.” Even something as lovely and basic as marriage is greeted with spite and diatribe from warring parties.
I don’t know about you, but I’m weary of the seemingly prevalent fear and anger in the air(waves) today. Giving up cable TV this past year in favor of streaming was my first step in shedding that black cloak of broadcast gloom and doom. That ratings tact may attract more viewers in general, but it certainly doesn’t attract me. In general, I find ugliness repellant. I’ve often joked that an early version of Photoshop was physically installed in my mind at a young age. You may call it severe denial; I call it aesthetic editing – and it’s an absolute necessary for this designer’s sanity.
So what can I do about the current fecal tempest raging around me? For me, the answer lies within the quote that opens this missive. I choose to build rather than tear down. I had lunch this week with a young architect who wanted advice on his future path. During our conversation, he said something that struck me profoundly. He told me one of his life goals was to simply make the world a more beautiful place. What a higher calling.
So, in the midst of the fear-mongering and chaotic hatred swirling about in the state of our current events, I’m also reminded of another quote. This one from St. Francis:
“Where there is darkness, (let me bring) light.”
More often than not, I’m able to find light as near as the end of my pencil. In an atmosphere of destruction, I can create. It’s a God-given talent I’ve never ignored – I can make the world a more beautiful place.
And, maybe, that’s all I can do.
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