It has been quite a week. I got engaged to my partner of nine years (dramaturgs are nothing if not patient), and Obama’s inspiring victory was quickly tempered by California erroneously passing Proposition 8 (a discriminatory measure financially bankrolled by outside religious forces) and MO losing its cherished status as the Bellweather state. That said, Missouri is still counting the ballots, and there have been nightly marches in San Francisco to protest the legality of only straight couples being allowed to nag each other to death in the eyes of the lord. Demographic studies show that Prop 8 only passed because of support from the 65 and older crowd, so (not to be coarse about it) it is only a matter of time before the next generation of social thought will bring about complete equality. That is, assuming we don’t lose our generation to intolerance, which brings me to my next point.
I am not a big believer in marches or angry letters to the govenor (who I don’t believe supported Prop 8). Mass movements of all natures kind of irk me. Those call and response bits some do in church: yeah, I always bowed out of those, opting rather to silently reflect on the odd drone-like cadence 300 voices create when they are all hymnalling the same words. But, at the same time (and I mean this in the nicest way possible), Obama is a symbol, and a symbol’s worth is dependent upon the actions of those who believe in that symbol. “What good is faith if you don’t use it,” I heard somewhere today.
I think Obama will do a fine job. He’s smart, and I could listen to him speak for days. Reading articles from around the world (at watchingamerica.com: CHECK IT OUT!) confirms that the hopeful electricity circulating around 54% of the States is felt by the majority of the world population (except Iran, those knucklheads). But so too has the inevitable question–Now what?–made its international tour.
Now what? On Thursday I recommended to my boss that our Artistic Director HAD to rewrite the program note for our upcoming production of A Christmas Carol because she wrote it before the election and it simply isn’t relevant anymore. This has been one of those events that immediately changed our cultural context, arguably on a global scale. But what do we do with it? Or, rather, what can I do with it?
Someone suggested to me yesterday that we already work in the non-for-profit arts sector: “Isn’t it already like we’re volunteering already?” I understand her meaning: we’re all smart cookies, and if we so chose it seems likely that we could find jobs that paid a bit more. Okay, a lot more. Do I think of my job as important to society? Yes. But so is the job of a plumber (who makes a lot more than I do). In fact, a plumber is much more important than a dramaturg, as I learned when my toilet started backing up through my shower drain. Those of us who work in theater are forever fortunate that others are willing to pay us to bring them art, just like they are willing to pay plumbers to ensure they can take a hot shower in the morning without standing in their own excrement.
So my job–though I love it–is not enough. Doing my job will not help Obama because I have already been doing my job and sure didn’t seem to help W. We’ve been asking a lot about what our country can do for us lately (whining, I believe, was the term used by someone who will not be president), and I appreciate that Obama has not asked us to consider what we can do for our country.
Because he shouldn’t have to.