It’s a beautiful Sunday morning here in Michigan on this American holiday weekend. We’re celebrating our nation’s birthday with picnics, fireworks, pool parties, and sailing on the lake.
But I want to interrupt the festivities and get serious for a moment.
One of the most important freedoms we celebrate today is freedom of speech, or freedom of information. We live in a time when more information is available in more forms that at any other time in the 225 year history of this country. Day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute, we are bombarded with information. Between e-mails and cell phones and texts and internet and 24-hour international news cycles, it is always available, and it never ends.
Our TV’s and computers bring us real-time images of murders, bombings, natural disasters, as they occur from every corner of the globe, all broadcast on our huge high-definition screens. We hear the cries and screams of those affected directly in our ears through digitally enhanced audio headphones. If we can’t take it anymore, we can always change the channel, but still run the risk of a popular show or movie featuring it’s own murder and mayhem.
Sometimes, like a cranky preschooler, I want to clamp my hands over my ears and scream, BE QUIET!
It’s true: horrible things do happen in the world. It’s also true that if we are to be good citizens of the world, we need to be cognizant of them.
But I wonder.
What would happen if we tried to reframe the message? What would happen if we countered every story about violence and disaster and hate with another story about peace and compassion? Can our creative work be about highlighting our shared stories instead of glamorizing our differences?
What would happen if more of the messages we released into the world on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram were messages of truth, empathy, beauty, caring? What if we used our social media feeds as a tool to incite hope, generosity, and empathy, instead of to spread anger, irritation, and sarcasm?
I believe words matter. I believe images matter. I believe music matters. I believe all of these things frame opinion and thought in mysterious ways we can barely explain. Because in this 21st century, the Media really does carry The Message.
The Sunday Salon is a place where I contemplate the intersection of life and art. I believe our mandate as artists in this information age is to use our creative intelligence and ability to promote good – to advocate healing and acceptance and understanding and wisdom. To reflect beauty, invite contemplation, and offer common ground.
Creative friends, we have awesome power, with untold avenues and opportunities to put a message into the world, to plant seeds of change. In the United States, we have amazing freedoms with which to do that.
Use that freedom wisely and well.
Let it ring out all over the world.
About the Author: Becca Rowan
Becca Rowan lives in Northville, Michigan with her husband and their two dogs. She is the author of Life in General, a book of personal and inspirational essays about the ways women navigate the passage into midlife. She is also a musician, and performs as a pianist and as a member of Classical Bells, a professional handbell ensemble. If she’s not writing or playing music you’ll likely find her out walking with the dogs or curled up on the couch reading with a cup of coffee (or glass of wine) close at hand. She loves to connect with readers at her blog, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.