What You Can Do

A. Nora Long, producing associate

Sorry, blog, this is a day late. But, hopefully, I will make up for my tardiness, with thoughtfulness (fingers crossed).

On Sunday, I led our second talkback for our current production Time Stands Still; (Hang on, isn’t this blog about The Temperamentals? Wait for it!) the story of two journalists recovering from trauma they have faced abroad, and the impact their work has on their relationship. It is a play about relationships, primarily, but one of the questions it raises (and was again raised by several audience members) surrounds the idea of the value of journalism. Is it worth the risk these journalists take to cover these stories? With so many images fighting for our attention, does any single image have power anymore? Why is it important for average citizens to be informed about the world? What can we really do about it?

I think we can all sympathize with this feeling of helplessness. What can any of us small individuals do about all the many terrible things happening in the great big world? Well, in this country, you have two powerful tools at your disposal – voting and shopping.

I think the benefits of voting are fairly self-explanatory – you can have a direct impact on who makes decisions in the one of the most powerful nations in the world. You can lobby your elected officials, you can let them know how you feel about anything. And, with the advent of the internet, it couldn’t be easier. In case you weren’t otherwise aware (cause you read this blog but no other source of news?) this is an election year. In Massachusetts, you must register to vote by August 17th to be eligible to vote in the State Primary, or by October 17 for the General Election on November 6th. You can read more about it here. So, vote, and email your representatives.

Shopping may sound silly, but as a consumer in a capitalist country, where you put your money matters. The fact is the advances of technology and the global market mean that we are all much closer to events in the world than ever before. In the 90’s, we all started to look at our sneakers differently, and changed the industry – and now the true cost of the Ipad is drawing similar comparisons. In the last month, a group threatened to boycott JC Penney for hiring Ellen DeGeneres as a spokeswoman, only to rally several thousand more supporters to DeGeneres and the retailer, in a sense boycotting the boycott.

I could go on as there are many examples of how each of us can contribute in our small ways to shaping the world we want to live in – which brings me nicely to the story of The Temperamentals. As Stuart Timmons writes about in his biography of the leader of our group (and incidentally revealing the inspiration for the title, “The trouble with Harry Hay was his refusal to adapt to a reality he found unacceptable.” We can all do the same. As the philosopher George Santayana wrote, “Those who fail to heed the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.”

In looking back on our past, we have the advantage of hindsight, and can determine for ourselves how much has really changed, and how much has stayed the same. And then we can figure out what we want to do about it.