It feels like the world is having a ‘Come to Jesus’ moment, doesn’t it?
Six months ago, people didn’t know what to make of Greta Thunberg. They didn’t value health care or teachers or grocery store checkers or Uber drivers or Seamless delivery guys or silence or the laughter of friends. They didn’t value the Millennial struggle. They didn’t understand the post-9/11 generation’s lifetime of anxiety-filled lives of active-shooter drills and Narcon overdose administration tutorials.
Side note: The struggle is real. If you want to take the pulse of a generation, just note how many Millennials aren’t just passively not having kids but have actively chosen not to have them. They literally don’t want to replicate, which is their evolutionary purpose for being here.
I don’t know if this is a silver lining of pandemic. Maybe it’s not the silver lining. Maybe it’s the whole point. I don’t pretend to know that sort of thing. But I can see trends.
Have you watched Kal Penn’s show The Giant Beast That Is The Global Economy? It’s on Amazon Prime. He has an episode about rubber. Without rubber, the economy comes to a complete screeching halt. Why? No airplane tires. And not in years or even months but days. You may not fly every day, but you certainly rely on people and things that do.
If this is a ‘Come to Jesus’ moment, it’s not going to happen on its own because people won’t connect the dots. Maybe they haven’t the ability to think conceptually and globally. Or they can’t quiet their minds to give this the consideration it deserves. Maybe they’re too afraid. Or too arrogant. Maybe they’re products of a system meant to keep them oppressed through lots of mechanisms. Easily manipulated and somewhat docile…except for all the guns.
Side note: I forgot how scary men can be until I came back to Arizona. There’s a menacing feel to them. Men on Tinder show off their guns. Not muscles. But AR-15’s. That’s what they’re using as bait to attract women. Part of why I had to get away. You might think I’m overreacting or prejudiced. But there is an ignorance and a very rapey/murdery quality to most men out here that I will have nothing to do with.
You can spot them in the wild. Baseball caps or a terrible Cost Cutters haircut that’s been decoupaged for posterity. University of Arizona shirt. Cargo shorts, khaki but also camo. Bad facial hair. Sun burnt. And dead eyes. The dead eyes give it away. Even in a suit, you’d know. They’d look more like a defendant than a public defender. You might not know you were witnessing a conditioned toxic male. But your intuition would tell you something wasn’t right.
You don’t see this very often in NYC. Staten Island maybe. The Guidos from Jersey. But these guys don’t roam the streets out there. They wouldn’t know how to survive if the streets didn’t part ways for their aggression and entitlement.
We need to connect the dots because this there is potential for revolutionary positive change. There are a lot of people out there saying how different the world is going to be. But whether it’s good or bad has yet to be seen. As it stands, either we will see the light and kumbaya our way to a better future, or the current disparities will disproportionally affect the black and brown and poor and the foundation of post-pandemic world will settle on the rubble of their bones. if you think I’m being alarmist, I’ve got one word for you: Katrina.
Did you forget about Hurricane Katrina?
So, how do we connect the dots for people? I think it has to be a spoon full of sugar. You know the song:
If you don’t know the story behind the song, I’ll sum it up. There were two polio vaccines. One was a shot (Salk) and the other was administered as drops on a sugar cube (Sabin).
Well, the Sherman brothers wrote it for Walt Disney. One of the brothers had a child come home from school saying he’d received the polio vaccine that day. The father asked if it hurt, thinking it was the Salk vaccine. But the child informed his father about the cube of sugar. Boom, you got your song.
Anyway, we have to administer the truth with a cube of sugar. Not snark. Not irony. Not preachy or condescending. That turns people on the right off. They are sentimental. They are nostalgic. They look to the past for calm and good. They keep The Hallmark Channel in business. They love Dancing With The Stars.
So what’s the spoonful of sugar?
A big old-fashioned musical with snappy tunes and memorable refrains. The truth of Hamilton with the sap of Camelot. And if anyone can do it, it’s my friend Michael. He was made for this. I’m not drafting him or even recruiting him. Just telling him what could be his potential.
Michael and me at his front door in Nogales (1994).
Such a heavy time. So many people are sitting at home wondering what to do during this downtime. But when we come out of this we’re going to need big thinkers and doers out there starting the revolution. We can vaccinate the world against ignorance and indifference a lot easier if we can get them to swallow it willingly. We just need a little bit of sweetness.
Edit: it’s Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday today!