As I write, I am still watching the Golden Globe Awards. I am loving it. I am happy to see La La Land do so well and have been moved by many of the night’s speeches. None moreso than Meryl’s Streep’s, however. She completely blew me away and gave voice to something that has been weighing on me for quite a while, when she discussed our President-Elect mocking a disabled reporter on the campaign trail. She said:
But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.
I have to admit that I thought the moment that Streep described was going to be the end of Trump’s candidacy. I thought the reaction to his cruel words would be swift and complete; that his heartlessness and lack of empathy would be disqualifying.
Obviously, that is not how the election ended. And now we also know that Russia had in hands in helping to shape our election, a fact around which I still can’t wrap my mind.
Streep went on in her speech to call on the press to hold power to account. And she offered words, once spoken to her by Carrie Fisher: “Take your broken heart and turn it into art.”
This is how I have planned on dealing with my own broken heart over the election. I’ve been writing more (check out my writing blog here) and trying each day to ask what I would do if I felt brave– and then doing it.
I know this won’t be easy, but I’m already impressed with some of the results. And I am grateful to Meryl Streep for using her own spotlight to champion empathy, compassion, and art. I believe we all have the power each day to make art of our lives. And, right now, it feels more important than ever.