These are troubled times for many people all around the world, no matter if you’re ignoring this reality or not. In fact… no. Please don’t ignore it at all! It’s on us to change the circumstances of our lives, create the environment we live in and help to improve things. The times of political ignorance are over, especially in the wake of reactionary right-wing movements, a growing social inequality and a changing society. We all feel that a certain sense of change is in the air and that there is a current tendency that some forces of change are coming from the wrong direction. No matter what your opinion on these things is, it is time to get a bit more politically active in your neighbourhood and country.
NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION has always been an open-minded and multicultural platform for free minds and although we all really enjoy the power of music and art it is important to state that we can’t take these things for granted: whether it’s free art, freedom of speech and the possibility to be who you want to be in a free society. We ultimately believe that this righteous part will be the succeeding one but the road towards it will be tough and needs your active involvement in some form.
That’s why we asked our international staff of writers for their thoughts and opinions on how to get political active in various countries these days. Everybody got their own opinion and was happily invited to write these thoughts down in their native language. Today we, obviously, start with the United States and editor Jesse Freedman, answering the question how to get politcally active via the art form of music and beyond.
As we close out the third week of Donald Trump’s presidency we find ourselves in a whirlwind of political activity. There have been an unprecedented number of executive orders and appointments, and it feels that the further we move along in this process, the harder it is to exercise our influence as citizens in a democratic society. While much has been written already on the subject of ‘getting involved’ by American news outlets, there are still opportunities and steps to be taken in the U.S. and abroad with regards to political engagement.
With the upcoming elections in France we are looking down the barrel of another potentially divisive decision in the wake of the populist, nationalist moves that brought about Brexit and the Trump presidency. I imagine that many readers of this periodical have been glued to media outlets, as I have been, and have already done some research on getting involved or have actively contributed in forms of public protest.
I am thus faced with a bit of a challenge: how to offer something in the way of tactics that can be useful to what I imagine is a young and informed readership. While some of my thoughts will invariable seem redundant with regards to the wealth of information circulating on the internet, I hope to draw upon some alternative idea that harness the one thing that we have in common as participants in this particular digital space: namely, our love of music.
1. Organize musical events that donate proceeds to particular charities or political candidates
With the power of social media on our side, concert promotion has never been more easily organized. Work with fellow artists to develop a program that will utilize shared political values. Many arts institutions or even smaller venues, like bars and clubs, will likely be supportive in this contentious climate of supporting events that bend towards charity and political action. Some spaces will surely not wish to marginalize clientele that align with a particular political stance but, as we have see, many individuals are becoming much more vocal about the growing injustice and tyranny in our world.
2. Some charities that are in most imminent need of support under the new administration are
The large number of at-risk social organizations might seem overwhelming. It is best to find one or two groups that speak to you as an individual. There are many politically-minded individuals that identify with a variety of different causes.
Support the organizations that speak to you most and know that there are others fighting equally hard for other groups.
3. Support artists that are socially active and share your values
Celebrities carry a lot of weight in political discourse and have the potential to influence a larger number of followers than an ordinary individual. Show your support for these artists. Buy their albums and attend their concerts. While this may seen like a symbolic gesture, it carries a similar weight as a boycott. However, where a boycott influences through negative action, showing support demonstrates the power of positivity in an increasingly negative climate. Share your support for these artists on social media and tell your friends why they are worth paying attention to.
4. Organize listening clubs and discussion groups
The American Tea Party did not start as a huge political movement, but rather as a bunch of small, like-minded ‘clubs’ where people discussed local issues. Listening groups have the same potential to organize at a grassroots level. While music may be at the forefront of this type of social organization, it has the potential to evolve into a more charged apparatus that utilizes the power of music to engage and inspire a wider range of individuals.
5. Volunteer your skills
Work with teacher’s organizations, immigrant councils, veterans associations, and others by volunteering your skills. Perhaps there are opportunities to teach after-school music classes, or work on mural campaigns. If you are not an artist, that does not preclude your involvement in this process. Arts projects rely on funding, promotion, and government support to effect the broadest level of change. Every individual has some skill that is an essential link in the chain of a project of this sort. See what kinds of projects organizations are implementing and how your skills can be put into effect.
Go Oversees is one organization that sponsors arts projects abroad, which is essential in this increasingly divided culture.
This is a small list of ways that we can use our shared love of music to work on organizing ourselves and resisting the spread of the nationalist and populist rhetoric and policy that seems to be sweeping across the globe. I understand that people may want some more specific resources on how to contact and engage with representatives, and strategies for grassroots mobilization. I would recommend checking out the Indivisible Guide for resisting the Trump agenda. While it deals specifically with political institutions in the U.S. there are certainly strategies for any individual looking to incite change in any democratic – or potentially non-democratic – society.