To say and not to say

I’ve spent most of the last few days trying to formulate a statement on last week’s news out of our nation’s capital. What keeps issuing forth from my keyboard is angry, garbled and very, very preachy. I’ll try to spare you from the worst of the tirades, and will instead address a behavioral imperative that must be part of our professional conversation, and right now.

First, I’ll simply admit I am a passionate liberal who usually prefers to fight for justice behind the scenes. However, I may not be able to maintain my usual policy of neutrality in the Listerhood. In the past, I’ve generally attempted to avoid political issues in the List’s spaces unless they pertain to policies and funding that affect the arts. Let’s call that an effort toward “mission focus”. But after the Supreme Court’s announcement on Friday, we’re dealing with pronouncements that reach so deeply into people’s lives that few of us will manage to remain silent, even in the workplace. Everyone will be touched by this, and there are storms to come.

And so, I encourage you all to keep one thing in mind, regardless of whatever fight you’re about to undertake: let the music flow. Remember that while musicians and artists are often on the liberal side, some are not, and we’re all struggling right now. Be aware that opinions you share in the music room may not be shared by everyone around you. That sensitivity has never been more important.

Seth Godin, whom I quote often on the blog and in life, blogs every single day and often works ahead in his posts, so I don’t know if Friday’s “The kindness bonus” was topical or coincidental. But his endorsement of the power of being kind to one another just works. Check it out here. Better: print it out and carry it around for awhile. Might help.

Read Seth’s thoughts on kindness

As artists and presenters, we collectively serve as a connection engine. Please do what you can to keep your own individual peace during the rehearsal process, so that the very important work we do together can continue. Please remember: in the performing arts, we’re a family, even when we disagree. Regardless of where you stand on the issues, be kind to one another. Walk away or hold your tongue if the moment for argument isn’t right. Don’t let the issues get in the way of the music. Every one of us deserves to be treated with respect, and hopefully that respect will allow us to share common artistic goals, even in spite of ideological differences. Avoid tearing each other down out of mere anger. There is plenty of space in the rest of our lives to fight the good fight.

Why am I making such an issue of this?

Because performers who normally get along are already taking little pieces out of each other online. Tempers are high, and professional relationships are already taking a hit. Of course, some friendships will fall away amid the conflict. That’s a sad fact of life, and all we can do is acknowledge them and then let them go. But my wish for all of us, in the interest of a viable, collaborative future, is to outlive the conflict, strengthen our listening skills, and lose as few personal and professional connections as possible.

Be kind to each other, and remember that together, we have the power to be the light that shines through the storm.

Originally published in our member newsletter

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