Joel Derfner, author of Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever, keeps a blog. (Who doesn’t?) In today’s post, he reflects on his parents’ work as civil rights and workers’ rights activists in light of his own life working in the arts.
So I grew up in an atmosphere in which working to make the world a better place (in Hebrew, tikkun olam—”the healing of the world”) wasn’t just a virtue; it was an imperative.
I am therefore somewhat ambivalent about having gone into the theater; in a way, the fact that I’m not in a third-world country working to create food distribution systems makes me feel like a moral failure. (When I’m at my most self-loathing, I say, “My parents secured black people the franchise, and I write pretty music that makes upper-middle-class white people feel nice.”)
But my self-loathing aside, the fact is that theater does have the power to inspire its audience to tikkun olam; actually, we seem to be getting closer to measurable evidence that it does. more
I’m a big proponent of the need for art, even (or perhaps especially) in times of crisis when art feels like the farthest thing from a priority. But can it be tikkun olam? Read the entire post and see if you’re convinced.