The Curtain Calls For You to Think23 April 2020
Disclaimer: This piece will be touching upon the topic of racism and the event of 9/11. It also describes potential spoilers from an ongoing musical. Reader discretion is advised and know that this piece was not written with the intent to hurt or marginalise ideas and feelings on these topics.
Kindness. You’d think the will to do good would trump everything else. Think again! I sound cynical—I don’t mean to—but there is good out there, so much choice to make it all better and we sit every day in fear. Not everyone does. I give props to those living their lives in the moment, fearless and with halos of lemon-drop sunshine. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate life and fear is a biological instinct that keeps us safe. It’s normal, yet I can’t stop thinking of the fear that we let dictate our lives to the point where it ferments into hate.
Fear is engulfing nowadays and so prevalent, especially with the fast-paced cover stories of the news. I can’t stop thinking about why it’s easy to let that fear run every fibre of our being. Take 9/11: it was so shocking to the world that the entirety of how airspace and airways ran changed forever. I bring up 9/11 because even now, nearly two decades later, it is so relevant that it has been adapted into an award-winning musical, Come From Away. It’s a spectacular show that makes three hours pass like a blip of a second. I walked in thinking it would be an archetype of a musical. Instead, it was something else altogether—one story, told by several voices, and it was outstanding. I cried over the loss of a newborn, loss of identity and the loss of a son. I felt every character’s embrace and heard every cry in its sea of silence. The musical as an artistic piece was marvellous. As a piece that mirrors the reality of our world today, it is transcendent. When I left, all I could think about was how the tragedy of 9/11 surpassed physical borders and changed the world forever.
9/11 left a mark on the world so strong its presence still exists. Tensions between the US, the poster-boy of Western power, and the Middle East were already high-strung; 9/11 just added gasoline to an already searing fire. I bring this up, not because I want to stir controversy, I just think this conversation is so important into realising how much we divide ourselves based on fear.
In the musical there’s an Arab chef and, like everyone else, he finds himself stranded. Everyone is stranded at this tiny, almost forgotten place called Gander; yet, the moment the news reaches the stranded passengers, and the town, he is ostracised in a heartbeat. None take a moment to empathise with what this man is experiencing. He is fearful, he is alone, and most of all, he is as displaced and lost as everyone else. In spite of all this, to everyone else his skin colour and birthplace become homing beacons of distaste. I’ll have you know, be it a spoiler, it gets better. Good hearts and open arms prevail and kindness triumphs. Nonetheless, the reality is that this is not the case worldwide and that is why it is so important to recognise the impact of the manifestation of fear into hate.
Reaching out a hand, metaphorical or not, sends waves of good mojo. The moment one townswoman took time to listen to the chef, she learnt of his skill and the wall between them fell. Tiny acts cascaded and gave everyone a new scope of this gentleman: relationships changed, hearts opened. It starts with being aware of our fears, taking chances on the people around us. No one is born with the intent to harm. What we do transcends into the world and catalyses what others do. Race doesn’t make someone what another man was. Race is the perfect example of human fear. It exists to divide, in its origin at least. I’m aware that in modern clinical sense it has its certain benefits… but that is beside my point!
The fear we feel can save us or make us—and when I say make us, it’s in the sense that it defines us and feeds the underbelly of hate. Call me a sucker but I believe that an open hand gets you further than a balled-up fist. Fuelling racism, the forefront model for hate, gets us nowhere in our modern age and it never will. If I would say one thing about Come From Away, other than that it is worth every minute and dollar, it would be that it highlights that amidst suffocating hate, it is possible to find that lemon-drop of kindness in you.