When an Australian reporter asked Ajahn Brahm, the head of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia, how he would respond if someone flushed the holy book of his religion down the toilet, that is what he said. The reporter laughed, as he had done quite a bit of interviewing of religious leaders taking their shit way too seriously that day.
I’m thinking about this concept a lot lately, and especially with the political actions of the US in the last few days. What do we do as people when people in power try to flush our ideals of respectful standard practice?
This is the first layer of the demo painting I am doing for the Master’s technique class. It is a painting of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager who was shot in the head by the Taliban as she was campaigning for girl’s rights to be educated. She is currently starting college! As an artist, this is part of what I am doing to counter balance the current administration’s unconstitutional ban of muslims. I’ve been wanting to paint Malala for a while now, and it was interesting timing to start this painting as my demo in class on Saturday and learn of the ban that night.
When I was in college I took a minor in international gender studies. I wanted to be a diplomat and work for the UN. The anger and frustration I felt from being wrapped up in the horrors of the world translated into health issues in my stomach. At the time I had been rejected from the political science schools I was applying to to earn my master’s degree while dreams of being an art teacher were resurfacing. I decided to stick with art, to have my career motivation come from love, not fear.
So, this Malala painting has layers of personal meaning for me. It is my way of putting my creative energy into celebrating one of my Sheros. It is a way of being a counterbalance to what I consider to be hateful, anti-American policy. It is a way to say to the world that what the leader of this country is doing does not represent me or many Americans. It is a way of saying, like Ajahn Brahm, that people can flush what others consider holy down any toilet they want, it will never change those ideals or that love as they are lived. It will never change the principles of the institution of the heart and the attitude that many people around the world have. The attitude and actions based on celebration of difference, of religious and cultural equality and loving inclusion, of kindness, of respect, can never be changed.
Cheers to Malala and everyone out there making the world a safe place for everyone to grow and learn, one step at a time.