One of the conclusions that I have come to in my life experience, and as a sensitive woman, is that we can make a point, however poignant, without deliberately trying to offend. That is not to say that art will never offend, but the deliberate attempt to disrespect others is a dangerous practice, and only provokes retaliation.
A good example of deliberate offensiveness was with the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, blatantly mocking Mohammad.
Not to say that freedom of speech is not important, nor that we should not point out political or social injustice; but messages of Hate, in my opinion, fall into a different category from satire.
“There is a fine line between censorship and good taste and moral responsibility.”
Street Art is an excellent conduit to convey political or social messages.
Bansky is renowned as a street Artist who points the finger with satyr and humor. Images are meant to provoke thought and stimulate vision from a different perspective.
Everywhere around the world people are speaking out with art.
In Zimbabwe women express themselves in road painting to expose their dissatisfaction with the socio- political landscape.
In many countries graffiti rebel politics include messages, phrases, slogans, and images from religious and culture groups.
In Lebanon graffiti has become modern and sophisticated, with inclusive messages to unite the masses rather then divide the politics.
Musicians and poets of all genres have been writing songs, poems rap and music for social change, rebellion and peace since the beginning of history. There are psalms in the bible advocating change, verses in Hinduism, war time poems, civil war songs, rock songs like Imagine, by John Lennon, the list goes on and on..
I illustrate my point with a few random examples:
How blessed are those who keep justice, who practice righteousness at all times!
Verses in Arthur Veda, Hinduism
I am He. You are She;
I am Song, you are verse.
I am Heaven, you are Earth.
We two shall here together dwell,
becoming parents of children.
Arthur Veda 14.2.71
Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors. But today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love.
Wilfred Owen is regarded by historians as the leading poet of the First World War, known for his War poetry on the horrors of trench and gas warfare.
This classic WWI poem concerns the death of soldiers and the notification their families receive when they die.
Anthem for Doomed Youth
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, -
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing down of blinds
Suheir Hammad is a contemporary poet living in Brixton, New York
One of her most acclaimed poems, (below) is written as the Voice of Woman, rebelling against war.
What I Will
by Suheir Hammad
I will not
dance to your war
drum. I will
not lend my soul nor
my bones to your war
drum. I will
not dance to your
beating. I know that beat.
It is lifeless. I know
intimately that skin
you are hitting. It
was alive once
stretched. I will
not dance to your drummed
up war. I will not pop
spin beak for you. I
will not hate for you or
even hate you. I will
not kill for you. Especially
I will not die
for you. I will not mourn
the dead with murder nor
suicide. I will not side
with you nor dance to bombs
because everyone else is
dancing. Everyone can be
wrong. Life is a right not
collateral or casual. I
will not forget where
I come from. I
will craft my own drum. Gather my beloved
near and our chanting
will be dancing. Our
humming will be drumming. I
will not be played. I
will not lend my name
nor my rhythm to your
beat. I will dance
and resist and dance and
persist and dance. This heartbeat is louder than
death. Your war drum isn’t
louder than this breath.
This is only a short, weekly blog.
I have much research and work ahead of me to expand my knowledge and study of other’s work, and to bring you more examples of Poetry and art for social change.
I just wanted to stimulate your palette a little....
For my own part, I enjoy expressing my heart felt opinions in poetry, in the hope that I might light a flame in the hearts of even one person, who could make a loving change in themselves, or in other’s lives.
No matter what your creed.
No matter what your politics.
As long as you are not cruel to your fellow man.
In the words of Khalil Gibran Lebanese poet 1883-1931
"I love you when you bow in your mosque,
kneel in your temple,
pray in your church.
For you and I are sons of one religion,
and it is the Spirit."
Amen to that.