Earlier this evening my son and I were in the kitchen singing along with the Disturbed cover of “Sound of Silence.” A huge swelling outcry against the inability to connect with the world around you, that descending, inevitable trailing into loneliness. I looked up from stirring the stew, my head filled with images of the 60s: the marches for racial and gender equality, the anti-war protests, the peace signs, and the repeated pictures of the atomic mushroom cloud. My twelve-year-old son remarked at how apt this felt right now in this time of social and political confusion. Being twelve years old, it was news to him that the song had been written in exactly such a time—just much earlier.
“Art is so much more powerful in turbulent times,” I concurred, “because we need it more.”
In those turbulent times, the greater world can feel very threatening to people. They turn to their smaller world for a sense of safety, of belonging, of being loved and being able to contribute to the betterment of the social space around them.
Deeply powerful art speaks to that.
Once upon a time, a young woman sat down at this desk and began a journey through history that would change how women understood what they were capable of. A woman like you, from a town like yours, just by making decisions you make every day. What kind of person do you want to be?
Once upon a time, a lonely little girl, on the cusp of becoming bitter, faced down the great demon by leading her community back to the remembrance of its roots. A girl like you, from a town like yours, realized that unless she changed the bitterness in her heart, she, too, would become a demon—a decision you make every day. What kind of community do you want to create?
Once upon a time, a tottering pioneer community set down roots and survived—through the steadfast endurance of their founder, through the blustering heroism of their icon, through the stubborn caring of their first hospital owner, through the thoughtful planning of their doctor mayor, through the entrepreneurial spark of generations of business people and farmers. All people like you, from a town like yours. This is YOUR story. This is your heritage. This is who you are capable of becoming; this is the town you are capable of not only creating, but being a part of.
There is HOPE.
No matter how bad things get, you can make this a better place than you found it.
Yes, son, art truly has power in turbulent times.
Tonya Macalino writes of the mystery of the past and all her legends and the promise of the future and all her dreams. Her adult series, The Shades of Venice, and her children’s series, The Gates of Auròna, both explore her favorite topic: the story of place. She can be found at www.tonyamacalino.com or at the local chocolate shop.