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Image via Vera Grossman

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.” — Toni Morrison

I can only say I hope Toni Morrison is right. We need caring people to speak up. We need people who “do language” to use it in this moment of crisis. Looking back in time we can see how crises have progressed from localized to generalized. Is there a place on earth where there is no crisis?

Bhutan maybe?

What is the source of our troubles? What is causing our political, economic and climate worries? Could it originate with the human species? But we are so brilliant! How could it be?

If you look a little closer you could be forgiven for spotting a lack of kindness, a lamentable lack of generosity, even — if I may be so bold — a kind of common heartlessness in the human animal.

Not everyone. I’m not painting the whole human species with the same brush, but it’s obviously enough to tip the scales toward ecocide, wars and endemic poverty.

Plagues of locusts, in other words.

We humans can do better, but we “artists” do need to rise to the occasion, it seems to me. This is not the time to hold our peace. We are the ones who do language, as Toni Morrison says. We will need to do more than language, though. We will need to do caring.

The world has need of heart, of an education and a practice of the heart. If anybody lives by sympathies, it would be artists, wouldn’t you think? Our powers are not just in the feel for words, though. Our talent is being more deeply human, of being able to imagine and feel our relatedness to everything. Empathy allows us to represent the dramas of life.

We notice the God given beauties, the struggles of others. Our mission is to add meaning to life. We are more than photographic devices transmitting the surface appearances of life. We sense connectedness between all things and our heart vibrates at the same resonances. We are the tuning forks of living on earth.

Yes, we do language, but we also do heartfelt connections. That’s why the world needs us.

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