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Art and Freedom

Sarah Kay Peters, Author

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What interests me is doing the internal work and using art as a way to access the knots that get tangled up inside us as we grow in this less than ideal world. Art is a way to get the knots out, give them some breathing space, allow them to free and untangle themselves as we flip ourselves upside down, inside out, outside in, inside up and upside out, to create an aesthetic gap and see things from a new perspective that allows for some untangling.

This is my work. If we don't do this, if we simply focus on the political, we run the risk of the oppressed repeating the cycles that they know and becoming the oppressor. The way to avoid that is heal what is broken inside, to deal with the cops in our head, to see the ways in which we are the oppressor of ourselves and others, and to choose something different.

Crack your heart open, let it bleed and choose something different.

When what we know is abuse and nothing else or a world that is violent, we think that is normal and the way things are. How do we learn something else? How do learn healthy ways of dealing with political problems that don't repeat cycles of violence but intentionally stopping those cycles by choosing something else for ourselves. How do we make the political and personal one while healing the personal so that we are armed with our trickster and flow, our malandragem as we take on the lions of neoliberalism, capitalism, sexism, racism, etc. How do we not become the abusers as we learn to take our ground, the ground that was long denied us? How do we not take power in the way that we are used to power being taken and choose an example that is foreign to us and different from the way we were raised and the world that we know?

The only battleground we actually have control over is the one inside. We can change that. We have the control to take on all the demons there, all the oppressors and move them out. They are ours. We don't need to depend on anyone or anything else to change to do this. We just need to take a deep long look at ourselves, ask for the right support and make it happen. We have control there. By establishing control there and creating what we want out of a new vision of the world, with space for seeing the world upside down or rightsight up or however else you need to rock your internal world to untie those knots blocking breath, blocking insights, blocking your freedom to be your best self, we can practice forming the larger world that we want to see. But it starts with yourself. If you can't do anything at that battleground, where can you do anything. As Gandhi says, be the change you want to see. That change starts with you. Do the internal change, and they way you relate to the world will start to shift results in your life.

I am also aware of a certain amount of privilege that this statement comes from. My life is not in immediate danger. I am not at risk of being tortured, killed or imprisoned by my own government. I don't live in fear of the police. Some things require immediate action. Emergency intervention, but even in those situations, or perhaps even more so, for the big picture, the long haul, the internal work needs to be done to take on those monsters with some kind of lasting effort.

How can you fight oppression in your community, but keep it in your home? Why is it that the man who is abused by his boss comes home and abuses his wife? That is what he knows. That is the cycle of abuse and the cycle of oppression. To end that, what is broken inside him that allows the abuse from the employer to continue and justifies abusing the wife, needs to be worked out. Only after that can some real change be made. How am I a person who fights oppression, yet I find myself in relationships with out of balance power situations that lead to abuse? By working internally, I am finding pathways to freedom from this. It comes from valuing myself enough and learning healthier ways to deal with circumstances by fully understanding the source and dealing with that rather than symptoms. In this way, I am looking to longer term solutions and freedom from self and systems of oppression. 

A gateway to this is art. 

This is that story.

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