To Art or not to Art

from my old blog at

It’s one of those days I feel out of words. I’m not sure if I should write with empathy or distain. Empathy for the individual who makes the wrong decisions in the hope his life might improve. Disdain for society that appears to have no swarm intelligence whatsoever. And then I stumble across an article by The Millions on just that topic. Turns out, a writer needs both.

It’s one of those days I don’t know if I should be an artist or an activist. After some soul-searching, I realised that I am both and always have been. I wrote my climate fiction series because I was angry, and wanted to tell the story of a girl that grew up in a post-climate-disaster world. I wanted to write her story to explore how life might turn out for my grandchildren and their grandchildren. Back when I wrote the series, leading climate scientists such as Stefan Rahmstorf and Michael Mann were full of hope. To them, climate change could be reversed, or halted. We could do it. I kept wondering where they’ve got their data from to make such a conclusion. Since when does humanity – as a mass – act logical, humble, altruistic? I’m shocked what a quick turn their tone took on social media when Trump was elected president. Their posts now have the flavour of despair.

Maybe one of the core problems of humans is that we don’t listen carefully. Maybe that’s what artist are for? Artists listen, watch, and then we present how we see the world through our eyes. We challenge what’s considered normal by distorting, mirroring, sharpening, blurring, over-exposing.

I’m angry again, and I find it hard to listen to and try to understand people who turn to unkindness, misogyny, and racism while not even realising how much their behaviour results in their own emotional poverty. I try to understand why some people seem indifferent in times of crises, while others act with compassion. I try to understand what it takes to change the course of society, and how far an individual would go to change a failing system. What I learn hurts. But that, too, is what art is for: it identifies your wounds for you. So you can heal them.

The question is not whether I should make art or not. It’s whether I am finally brave enough to pour all my activist-heart into it.

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