I know I post and reblog many petitions and things that aren’t directly related to my artwork, and I know some of you may question why. Maybe you think I overreact. Maybe you think it’s easy to dismiss so many causes and so many things like this.
But it’s not. Now more than ever, we all need to take a decisive stand every time we are attacked. And it is attacks. And the people attacking are every bit as energetic and often much more vitriolic. These are powerful people who are abusing their power, who can influence so many who refuse to think for themselves. By not saying or doing anything in return to assert ourselves, we are complicit to their judgements. We are essentially consenting by silence.
Every time we allow something to be done to us without saying or doing anything in protest or disagreement, that sends a message that they can do it again…and next time, they can try to take more, do more, pull off more. Yes, it’s a great deal of work to have to babysit public figures, celebrities, and most of all government. But yes, it’s also worth it. We can’t live like children; and adults are only larger children, playing more far-reaching games of pretend.
I know some people skitter away from any historical parallels or warnings, which I feel is a mistake on their part. But recently I was reading about one of my favourite times — the 1920s — and in an often-ignored city in terms of that time (for various reasons): Berlin.
And maybe it’s because I’m in a couple of neatly-classified groups that would have had me shipped off to be mass-murdered for the good of the race, but I find the message that history has left to be a horrifying one. No country was a hero in any war, least of all World War II. Every country did atrocious things, to their own people and others.
But what is most sobering is the fact that the 20s was one of the most permissive times in Berlin, and not five years after the next decade began, it became harshly oppressive. Hideous. Inhuman. And murderous. Groups who had enjoyed openness and acknowledgement were now pariahs, less than human, killed like nothing, made to disappear. People were encouraged to be divisive, which made it difficult for groups to stand against this treatment, gradual as it was. Some groups were singled out as scapegoats for things that were not and could not even logically have been their fault. And it’s the same then as it is now: groups are attacked in ways to divide them, and they are only unified in the oppression of others, then made to feel like it has benefited them somehow.
I’m not saying these things will happen exactly the same way they did then. But that is a potent lesson on allowing the ambitious to go too far with ridiculous claims. We have the tools now to make it more difficult for them to succeed with propaganda and backpedalling when they say something they regret or that is ill-considered. The world is smaller and more communicative. And it is through petitions and the like that we can band together and make our voices known, in great number, and let them know that no, it is not okay to abuse us, whether verbally or through the attempt at passage of oppressive laws.
There is a tremendous amount of fear on the parts of these people lashing out most vociferously, and ignorantly, and that is what has powered most politics of the past quarter-century: fear. Fear of the unknown. Which is most regrettable since all it takes is a little willingness to learn, to banish that fear. Ignorance, especially willful ignorance, generates fear.
So what I’m trying to say is, now is not the time to throw up one’s hands or to simply tune out these things, to say ‘it’s not that bad’. It is that bad. It only takes a few seconds to sign and repost these petitions. It only takes a few seconds to do something, to add your voice, and to say ‘that’s not okay’. And that is really enough in many cases. It’s more than what most have done up to now. We have this amazing, powerful tool at our fingertips. Let’s not neglect it.
I know I’ve gone into some pretty serious territory here, and I know some might laugh it off or say I’m exaggerating. I am not. The situation is not exactly the same, and it never will be. But it is a sobering fact that even the most liberated environment, even the most tolerant and permissive culture, can be turned into a harsh, hostile cesspit of hatred virtually overnight. We must be ever vigilant. We must never allow ourselves to become complacent.
This world is by and for us. When any of us is treated so poorly, made out to be a scapegoat for problems that are nothing to do with us, even driven to suicide…no matter what, we must stand up, put our feet down, and say ‘no’. We must send a clear message that it is not acceptable.
So I hope you will take the time to spread the word when I post or repost about these issues, petitions, and causes. They are important. And I would rather take a little time now to try and send a clear message that these things aren’t acceptable than to have to fight harder, later, to undo the damage that was caused by people being too complacent and accepting things they should never have allowed.
Please consider these things. The internet is an amazing treasure. Let’s not neglect its potent ability. And let’s also not deny our own potent ability, the ability to change the world, one voice at a time, to make it a better place for everyone.