Every time I write something about nearly anything, particularly in the art world, I get very interesting pushback.
It usually begins when readers ask me ...
"What do you mean by ... (fill in the blank)?"
Keep in mind … I go out of my way to be extremely clear about whatever I'm writing about. When someone asks you what you mean about concepts that even kids might consider old hat, you know you've got someone trying to pick a fight with you.
Fortunately, I have zero time for semantics. And more often than not, the feedback reveals more about the respondents than it does about whatever I've written. It's almost as if what I've written doesn't matter, but here's what does ...
People think I've chosen sides ... I'm either on THIS side or THAT side. I'm either for galleries or against galleries. I'm either for artists or against artists. I'm either for this political person or against that political person.
This is what nearly everyone is trying to figure out while they're reading something written by someone else. It's not about principles. It's about who do they truly support? Once you - the reader - figures that out, you decide whether or not to like or hate the writer based upon who or what you assume they support ... or don't support. This applies to politics, education, business, religion and of course, art.
In this day and age, it seems everyone is armed. Literally and figuratively. If people don't have an actual firearm, they're still armed for potty-mouth combat. They're lawyered up, researched up, angered up and armed up. Grab your gun, grab your silo and prepare for battle.
Everyone is in fight mode. What's the deal?
People want to know exactly where other people stand. This, of course, helps you to identify "the enemy," especially during political voting season. Also, while the enemy may not even be real, who wants to fire blanks at an imaginary target? These days, we literally want to shoot a real person. That's more fun.
You know, never have we been better able to communicate with one another. We've got all sorts of mobile devices and yet, are we really communicating or are we constantly, verbally attacking one another on social media? It's seems almost imperative that you grab your silo and while you're bunkered up, you'd better be preparing to launch your next attack.
Communication? Forget about communicating. Who has time for that? Who wants to actually solve problems? Trying to win an argument is so much more fun - especially when you can grab a gun from your silo. It settles any dispute - once and for all.
Sorry. Where was I? Oh yeah, choosing sides.
Here's the thing. As a writer, I never see myself as "choosing sides." Yet this is what everybody wants. Everybody wants everyone to be "on their side." Most people like the idea of being "fair and balanced," but they couldn't care less about the practical application of it. Being fair and balanced takes work. Believe me. Yet, the only time people EVER want something to be "fair and balanced" is when they believe something hasn't come out in THEIR favor. Most everyone would choose blind loyalty over fair and balanced, although almost no one will admit to this.
Isn't it possible to be on someone's side and yet disagree with what they're doing or have done? In our society today, we often confuse blind loyalty with supporting someone's best interest. However, won't a true friend sometimes tell you, "No"? Wouldn't a true friend tell you the truth even though you might find it temporarily unpleasant?
Here's an example ... I was chatting with a human resources friend who recently told me that more and more parents of millennials are accompanying their grown-ass kids on job interviews. They want to support their kids. Are you kidding me? How on earth is that serving the best interest of their kids? These parents have got to stop infantilizing their kids and let them grow up and become functioning members of society. At some point, they need to experience sometimes harsh reality on their own.
But I digress.
When I write, it's really not about "choosing sides." I'm not writing from a silo. I'm actually listening and giving expression to my highest self ... or at least I hope it's my highest self. What can I say that will actually transcend the trifling nature of misplaced loyalty and simple injustice? Especially in our society today? What will best express the common good? Blind loyalty has been done to death. Aren't we seeing the results of that - right before our very eyes? How about actually attempting to be fair and adhering to some higher principle?
Believe me, I know. Being fair isn't sexy, but firing shots from your silo certainly IS. So many people today have this "bunker mentality." You know, get "them" before they get "you." People are running on pure fear. It's also somewhat troubling when I hear people talk about "them" or "they." Everyone thinks that someone is "coming for them."
Who exactly are "them" or "they"? I guarantee you that "them" and "they" - if they even exist - aren't thinking about you. Comedian Buddy Hackett had this joke where he'd say, "While you're at home nursing a grudge, they're out dancing!"
Can we put "them" and "they" to rest already? The only real power "they" have is the power we give them ... Especially in instances where we've got guaranteed rights and yet we're afraid that someone is coming to take our toys away. Really?
So many of us have our silos loaded up and we're geared up for battle ... whether it be at work, in rush-hour traffic, at the supermarket, at the gym, in front of the television and dare I say even ... at church. What is going on?
Everyone is in battle mode. Everyone is just ready for a fight. While I won't blame it on reality television, I will say that reality TV isn't helping. They're fighting on those shows for the sake of fighting. It's not even about anything of value. Everyone is entitled, outraged and justified. Yet who doesn't want to see a good fight? People fighting over nothing makes us feel like ... something. I'm just not sure what.
Hey, I have an idea. Why don't we all just end this gracefully by jumping into the abyss? Let's call it a day ... for good. We've messed up this world nearly beyond human repair. We can say we gave it a good shot. No?
What did you say? That's not the answer? I know. I know.
Well then ... you better choose sides and grab your silo.