The emergence of individual and group actions dedicated to ending practices which sustain violent oppressive conditions and cultivating those which support compassion-based harmonious coexistence is what I refer to as: Blossoms of Nonviolent Conflict Resolution. Such cultivation motivated me to establish and lead Creative Thinkers International, following 9/11, for a decade. It also prompted me to sign the Charter for Compassion in January 2014.
My latest step in service to the concept is a new collection of art colored, if you will, by this theme and practice. As noted in the curator commentaries posted with the collection, it was:
'...inspired by the exhilarating challenges and opportunities of our current 21st-century era. People on the move from one country to another, multiple generations sharing homes and work environments, social revolutions, and a lot more...'
The work also allows me to support humanitarian causes by donating percentages of sales from the prints (available in a variety of formats) in this post.
The Seen and the Unseen
Embracing the many different ways people are actively engaging nonviolent conflict resolution is important both because of unseen threats to our shared humanity, and, s it is because of more visible dangers. We know what to do when volcanoes erupt just down the street or when warned about the approach of a category 3 hurricane. We tend, however, often to be less better prepared when it comes to mindfully guarding against fear- or hate-fueled impulses directed at one another. Or at oneself.
Such personal violence might be the most dangerous of all due to the way it morphs into destructive public actions not only in the form of deadly mass shootings, vehicular homicides, and domestic abuse, but also in the forms of toxic government policies or outdated cultural habits injurious to contemporary lives.
Many creative artists who grew up during the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s have found it easy to adopt the iconic author James Baldwin's declaration that a true artist is "a disturber of the peace." In the context of the volatile historical times, these words aligned well enough with Martin Luther king Jr.'s pronouncements on creative maladjustment.
Baldwin's words have, understandably enough, become among various groups a rallying cry in this era in which so many forms of violence--the use of starvation as a weapon, kidnapping and raping of children, genocide--are inflicted upon entire populations under the guise of political or military urgency. The unabated cry of outrage over the separation of children from their families and their retention in kennel-like facilities, as part of POTUS Trump's administration's now-amended "zero tolerance" policy came as a welcome exception to the de facto apathy surrounding too many life-and-death-and-sanity issues.
The great danger which comes with the notion of tolerating human beings in obvious desperate need--or not tolerating them--is falling prey yourself to a cancerously-aggressive form of arrogance. It not only dilutes your capacity for an accurate understanding of the circumstances at hand and an effective application of intelligence, empathy, or compassion. It also sets the stage for an increased likelihood of resentment, non-communication, and resistance eventually leading to a greater fatal reliance on violence. (History has taught us this lesson repeatedly.)
Authentic Sustainable Peace
I have echoed Baldwin's assertion at least as much as any creative thinker committed to meaningful and healing social and political change. To me, being a "disturber of the peace" means not so much disrupting peace itself as dissolving illusions of peace maintained to manipulate the vulnerabilities of many for the financial or institutional gains of a few.
I/we do this by: constructing the language, symbols, stories, dialogues, and strategies which empower efforts to establish an authentic sustainable peace beneficial to humanity as a whole. These comprise the tools which make radiant blossoms of nonviolent conflict resolution possible within virtually any culture or geographical location.
When the peace proclaimed by those entrusted to protect it turns out to be a false one, then artists, like other conscientious citizens do well to point out the danger. Baldwin would say, as did the late genius jazz Nina Simone, that as sacred witnesses to history it is incumbent upon them to do so. But in general, exceptionally creative people are blessedly equipped with powerful instincts for bringing into existence dynamic original forms of knowledge and beauty needed to empower humanity to achieve its highest collective potential and allow individuals to realize cherished dreams.
Moreover: securing genuine peace, rather than focusing on disturbing the false by the use of whatever talents or abilities we possess may be one of the most creatively revolutionary actions an artist can take. Concentrating on the former rather than becoming distracted by latter may then result in what Dr. King described as light driving out darkness.
I labor to support the causes championed by the nature of our better angels in a variety of ways. The noted Blossoms of Nonviolent Conflict Resolution at present is one of the most important. From now until July 4, 2018 (unless extended), the art may be purchased at 25 percent off using promo code EXLTBU. Whether purchased in the form of a wall print, t-shirt, tote bag, mug, or something else, a substantial percentage of each sale of the prints seen here will go toward efforts to help us become more skillful practitioners of the empathy, love, and compassion which endow our lives with their rewarding moments.