I was reading a story in the Washington Post today about migrant children. In the process of detailing how a small town in Minnesota was dealing with a large influx of new arrivals, it described the trauma that these kids experienced on their journey, only to arrive somewhere, unwelcome, and where they now have to face discrimination and prejudice.
In addition to the anger I felt toward the bigots, I could not help but wonder what could be done to help these children process and heal from the trauma that they had and continue to experience.
We have all experienced trauma in some form. I know I have experienced a ton of it in my life.
Music and art have been my salvation. Music has always been there for me. It has and continues to be my way of processing and understanding those experiences.
There’s a principle called enantiodromia that basically states: everything contains the seed of its opposite. And, although I would never want to experience any of those traumatic things from my past again, I do understand how those events have, and continue to shape and fuel my work as a composer. To deny that would be to deny my own history and the lessons, or seeds, that these experiences contain.
Thinking about these kids and their experiences, I couldn't help but feel that this is another instance were we as artists are needed more than ever and where we can step up and use our art to change the world. After all, the trauma is there and it will surface, it’s just a matter of how. Will it surface in self destruction and, or violence, or will it be channeled into something positive, fueling the next great wave of new artists, telling their stories of the human experience?
We as members of the creative community have an opportunity to nurture the next great artists. We can also choose to do nothing. But, what will we be nurturing? Will we, as a nation, be doing the same as Tiberius, who said of Caligula, “I am nursing a viper for the Roman people, and a Phaëthon for the whole world."?
So, what can we do?
We can visit our community centers.
We can reach out to whoever provides services and offer ours.
We can offer art, dance, photography, and music instruction for free.
If we are part of a performing group we can offer that.
If we are a visual artist, we may be able to bring and show some of our work.
How many of us have or know someone who has an old digital camera laying around somewhere that they could donate?
How many have a recorder, or an old instrument that they could share?
I know, as artists, many of us have very little time and or money. Still I see this as a real opportunity, not only to use art as comfort and healing, but to open doors to worlds that these kids don’t even know exist. Art, music specifically, has opened those doors for me. I’m sure many of you feel the same. So let’s get to work and nurture our future.