Later this morning, I will give a brief talk at a brunch for the Indianapolis Women’s Chorus.
What’s that old saying about music having charm to soothe the savage beast? (Actually, the original–correct–version is “Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast,” but I sort of prefer the bastardized version, since I’ve been in a pretty savage and beastly mood lately.) At any rate, the Women’s Chorus makes beautiful music, and I’m looking forward to the performance portion of the program.
Here are the brief remarks I plan to share.
I am honored to be here today, not just because the Women’s Chorus makes beautiful music, but because your mission, and your celebration of diversity, has never been more important.
Like many of you, I have been depressed and frightened since last November’s election. That election rewarded a campaign based almost entirely on appeals to American resentments–on appeals to ignorance, racism, misogyny and homophobia–and it left me wondering what had happened to the country I thought I lived in.
In the wake of that election, though, I’ve been energized and amazed to see unprecedented levels of civic engagement, from the Women’s March to the marches in support of science and the environment, to the turnouts at Congressional Town Halls across the country, to new activist groups springing up every day. Here in Indiana, Women4Change was organized last November, after the election; today it has close to 14,000 members.
We are not alone. And we can learn a number of lessons from what has come to be called “the Resistance.” Let me just share three of them:
- Lesson number one: We the People are not helpless. When so many Americans rise up and demand better policies and better government—when we let our elected officials know that we won’t continue to allow them to enact policies that take from the poor and give to the rich, that we won’t continue to turn a blind eye to corruption and cronyism, that we will refuse to let racist, sexist and homophobic tactics divide us—we can prevail.
- Lesson number two is particularly gratifying to old feminists like me: women can and will empower other women. Women can and will stand up for our right to self-determination, our right to equal pay for equal work, our right to control our own reproduction, and our right to live our lives on our own terms. We can and will encourage more feminists—female and male– to run for public office, and we can and will support them when they do.
- Lesson number three is one that members of the Indy Women’s Chorus know well: the performing and visual arts are inherently and powerfully political. Not partisan, but political and progressive. More hearts and minds have been changed through story and song than through blog posts and editorials—and I say that as someone who has a blog and writes editorials. The arts—music, dance, theater, painting—are what separate humans from animals; communication through the arts touches and teaches us in profound and moving ways.
I applaud what you do, and I am so grateful to be a part of today’s event. Thank you for asking me!