This morning, NPR ran an interview with Bono and the Edge.
When I was thirteen, I used to steal my mother’s cassette tapes and listen to Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum, over and over on my Sony walkman, until the tape broke. U2’s music was a HUGE part of my adolescent soundtrack. I grew up believing in the promise of America, in freedom, kindness, and justice for all.
“We always thought of the America of John F. Kennedy, of Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln… and then there was this other America that came around once in a while that was a much more fear-based mentality.” ~ Bono
It is interesting sitting with their music some thirty years later, and realizing that the themes expressed in their music are just as relevant today as ever. Interesting, but perhaps not surprising. Art reveals truth and beauty. “Art” brings us to our higher selves – it is some people’s heaven. It reminds me that truth is truth is truth and truth is beautiful even when it’s not.
As an artist/creative/writer/someone-who-does-not-like-singular-labels, I see our current political reality as a contest between two worlds. There is a chasm between those who live in fear and those who are committed to living beyond fear. At the risk of being hyperbolic, it feels like a battle between good and evil, between those that believe our best days are yet to come and those that believe our best days are behind us. I feel like this obvious, but few talk about it in these intuitive terms (except Bono).
I find it frustrating when folks tell artists to “stay in your lane.” Folks who lash out at actors (like Meryl Streep and John Legend), lack the empathetic and sensibility to understand that artists are exactly the folks that need to be representing our best selves, our truth our beauty.
I get why we don’t speak in these terms and I know it’s not useful to demonize the “other side.” It’s certainly not kind, however, I dream of a world where everyone is an artist on their own terms.