President Randy Reinholz has asked me to continue this blog, so from time to time I will be posting items and thoughts that may be of interest. I note that it has been over two months since my last post.
In the interim NTC conducted its first, and we hope last, completely virtual annual conference. It was, according to participants, a resounding success. A highlight for me was sharing screen time and engaging with our 2020 NTC Person of the Year Taylor Mac and our Paul Green Awardee Graham K. G. Garlington (pictured at right). For those of us behind the scenes it was a great deal of work. Thankfully we had a great team: our 2020 Board of Trustees, our committees and committee chairs, and our wonderful staff!
In the interim, too, were two months of idiocy in DC, thousands of needless Covid-19 deaths, and, thankfully, some holiday respite.
Now we are on the verge of a great opportunity in America. After four years of negativity in a long dark tunnel, we are emerging into the light of hope for a better, saner, healthier future. But as we look to our new leaders for promises to be fulfilled, we must remember the darkness and strive to understand what got us into that place and how we can never go there again, how we can keep lighting lights to never again curse the darkness.
On this day of remembrance for Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., I am moved to reiterate words from his final speech on this earth: "Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation." I believe it all comes from education. And in this education must be the teachings of truth and empathy. The dystopian ember of "alternative facts" must never again be allowed to ignite and torch the truth. Truth is truth, facts are facts and lies are always lies, however the latter may be couched in didactic homily. The pejorative notion of empathy as a weak sibling to character must also be erased. Empathy is the gateway to understanding. If we travel down the road of truth and empathy, the land of enlightenment cannot be far off.
As Dr. King further said in his speech:
"Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus, and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life...But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn't stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the 'I' into the 'thou,' and to be concerned about his brother...And so the first question that the priest asked -- the first question that the Levite asked was, 'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?' But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: 'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?'"
Selfishness is easy. Selflessness is hard. It's work, sure, but we can do it, with Arts at the vanguard and Theatre to help teach. We are, after all, tellers of stories. Through our stories we can show, not in pedantic terms but through entertainment, a way of light, of truth, of empathy, and yes, of love. As Dr. King said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."