Just Be the Spark; Silence Does Not Always = Complicity
"Tomorrow I'm going to write humor again," I thought. It's been a while. Not much about the world these days inspires laughter, and the last time I looked at the world with genuine satire was somewhere around late March, just before COVID-19 cases surged in Massachusetts. Enough of this serious, heartfelt stuff, I thought. Time to get funny. About what? I don't know. Sleep on it.
So I did. Woke. Then sat. And sat. And sat. And sat and sat and sat and sat and sat and sat.
|Behind the scenes: Elaborate video setup.|
It's wasn't yet 5:30 am when it was clear that the possibility of humor was going straight out the window. Scrolled Facebook. Tulsa Massacre, 1921. When a town of 10,000 affluent black US citizens was bombed, the first bombs dropped by the US on its own soil, after a white woman falsely accused a black man of assaulting her in an elevator. The anniversary, the location: what sort of place for a president to reinvigorate his campaign amid powder-keg racial tensions? Then, reading about rolled back transgender health protections during a pandemic and Pride Month. Then playing a "guess the race" game on Boston Globe's color-coded map of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts. Try it. The darker the color, the higher the confirmed case number, and you guessed it... the lower the income, the darker the skin of its residents. Thought about the complicated reasons why. Is anything funny here? Even Dave Chappelle isn't joking. "I don't mean to get heavy," he said. "But we gotta say something."
Then I looked at a video we posted last night on The Lindsays page. Some upbeat Irish reels in a green backyard. Is this a picture of privilege? Our chainlink is rusty, the patchy grass is unmowed. The picnic table that held our tripod was bought off the sidewalk for 20 bucks. But... yeah. In many ways, it is.
Last night, we made music in that spot. The persistence of song; beauty's power to help us yearn for what is right. Not being blind. Feeling others' pain. Trying to appreciate joy anyway. Started to draft a Facebook post saying something articulate to that effect, and then remembered something someone said to me yesterday. "The problem with Facebook is that it gives every idiot a platform." And in the video above, Dave Chappelle pointed out that even idiots can be articulate. I deleted my draft. Too much noise. I didn't want to be one of those idiots.
But silence is not always complicity.
When asked to say something about what is going on, Dave Chappelle wondered what more could he possibly add? "The streets are speaking for themselves," he said. As the sun rose behind the thick leaves of our garden this morning, I looked out. A pint glass left on the picnic table captured a tiny shaft of light and magnified it. Just one bright spark in the morning silence. Reminding me: We don't always have to say what is right, and good, and just. Sometimes we are called to be those things—not to speak about them, but to do them. To be the spark. And that says far more than words alone.