While this space is usually dominated by thoughts on the arts, management, etc. I cannot help but find linkages to our society and the struggles it faces (a frequent topic of the arts, yes?).
I found the article by Leslie Jameson on “Rape, Race and the Jogger” in last Sunday’s New York Times to be particularly insightful as to the impact of gender, race and our socio-political systems. I had just moved to New York City and was living alone, as a runner, when the ‘Central Park Jogger’ rape occurred. As a runner and as a woman working in the theatre traveling at odd times and in unusual places, I have always been hyper-aware of my own vulnerability. But that vulnerability is based on violence against me as a woman. As Jameson notes, our vulnerability is inscribed on our bodies and defined by our society’s perceptions, allowances, and systems.
The US cultural norm is that of violence. Violence against ‘other’ dominates our media, our popular culture and our lives. I recognize that this is not a US-only problem, but our glorification of violence as a ‘developed’ country is shared only by our cold-war enemy, Russia.
I wonder, then, why it is that when you consider the countries where happiness is highest as rated through the UN’s GDH index if a sense of community and safety is a key to happiness. We know money does not buy it, but perhaps a sense of belonging regardless of gender, color, sexual identification is the critical factor. If that is true, then it is up to the arts to share that insight and wield its symbolic capital to de-inscribe the violence that is now naturalized against our brothers and sisters’ bodies.
I encourage you to read Jameson’s article and consider your own vulnerability and how it relates to your sense of happiness or content.