Welcome to Conversations with the World 101. Originally part of the virtual launch party for the book Greeting Flannery O’Connor at the Back Door of My Mind, this edited version is being presented as Americans head to the polls for Election Day 2020. This is what it’s all about:
Quotations from my work in different languages in various mediums have had the unexpected effect of adding my voice, in visually creative ways, to some important conversations going on around the world. They concern major issues like human trafficking, climate change, social justice, and falling in love. At #This2020Moment, the concept of democracy is weighing heavily on a lot of people’s minds and I’m happy to contribute to dialogues addressing it even in places I have never been.
The fact that this is a presidential election year in the United States does strongly influence international discussions on what democracy is or should be. But so does an independent collective hunger for greater freedom experienced by members of diverse communities. African-Americans this summer dramatized the issues of systemic racism, social injustice, and police brutality by flooding city streets in protest of conditions and circumstances reminiscent of the Red Summer of 1919. The stunning difference this time around was the number of non-African Americans joining the protests in America and abroad. Such has been this summer of #2ManyLivesGone2Soon. Among the quotes from my work which have become part of the dialogues on democracy as observed in different countries and democracy as a practice to which some are aspiring is this one below (art graphic by Alyson Murphy) on democracy with additional thoughts from Barack Obama:
There are many graphics of the same quote. Along the same lines is this regarding discourse and critical thinking (art graphic courtesy of FB study group):
Both of the above excerpts are from the yet-to-be published
Splendid Literarium: A Treasury of Stories, Aphorisms, Poems, and Essays.
On occasion someone will express surprise over seeing a quote from me used to support something or somebody which appears extremely contrary to concerns and causes with which I’m generally associated. That kind of thing tends to happen on the internet, and also offline for that matter.
The upside of such appropriations is they help facilitate dialogues focusing on issues which need as much input from different people as possible. The downside is when the very same words adopted by positive progressive influencers are used by more toxic nihilistic elements. It’s kind of like what happens when a song by a musician such as Bruce Springsteen or Beyoncé gets played at a political rally for someone they don’t particularly like. What that kind of paradox indicates to me is that in essence most of us are reaching for the same things, such as: measures of acceptance, understanding, freedom, love, civility, and opportunities to peacefully manifest individual happiness within safe healthy communities.
For the original version of this post and others in the Conversations with the World Series please check out Bright Skylark Literary Productions.
Have a great Election Day Everybody.
author of Greeting Flanner O’Connor at the Back Door of My Mind
Harlem Renaissance Centennial 2020