“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.”
Usually November is our “Art Issue”. However, in one of our Eye meetings, our discussion evolved to offering our opinions of Trump’s ‘America First’ campaign; it was decided that November’s theme would be ‘Mexico First’. We discussed Mexican inventions, such as color television and The Pill, and I envisioned the November cover with the words “Mexico First” emblazoned across. When the submissions started to slip into my inbox they mostly dealt with art and I realized that we hadn’t communicated or committed sufficiently to the theme.
However, upon reading the articles, they were exactly what I had hoped the ‘Mexico First’ issue would have embodied. This made sense because art is a response to the world around us and is often a tool for political expression and protest.
‘The personal is political’ became the war cry for second-wave feminism of the 1960s. It was a response to the patronizing, pat-on-the-knee, ‘it’s nothing personal’ justification. The personal is political is easily applied to the issues of the day: racial and class injustice that are at the heart of the immigration issue.
We make political choices every time we make a purchase, whether it is a new car assembled in a factory in Mexico, a shirt that was sewn in Bangladesh, an Iphone that was assembled in China or chicken from a processing plant in Iowa. Much of the bounty of our cushy first-world lives comes at the expense of the poverty and poor living conditions of others.
Each of us is where we are mostly due to privilege and circumstance or lack thereof. It would help to remember that as we witness people on the move in search of a better life. People who make the choice to put themselves and their children in harm’s way to change their circumstances are courageous. Imagine how bad a situation would have to be for you to walk away into the unknown? In many ways we are all responsible for the living conditions of everybody – this is the responsibility that comes with globalization. In order to ‘help’, we need to start making choices that will reflect the world we want to live in.
Pay fair wages, support art, give away things you don’t need, buy from fair trade businesses, extend yourself to strangers.
There is no ‘them’ and ‘us’ – we are all in this together and it is personal.
See you in December,