Barbeques and fireworks, family picnics. And that’s great. But somehow, I think there might be a little more to this holiday than that. Tyranny can manifest itself in many forms, not all of them physical. 235 years ago, we fought and gained our independence from a British dictator (the word king is for fairytales). Now we fight another kind of battle against tyranny, but it’s not a political battle, it is a personal one. Regardless of how miserable you think our government is, or dysfunctional our politics, we live in great freedom. We can do (almost) whatever we want.
The answer is clear enough, and fear is his name. We are afraid to fail, afraid to succeed, afraid to make a mistake, to be called amateur, incompetent, untalented, whatever. The artist is our guide here. He or she takes the risk of digging creativity out of his being and baring it naked before the world. We love his art, or we hate it, but we can’t deny its boldness, no matter the subject. And it is a great irony that the artist often appears meek or timid, when in reality, he is the lone soldier on the front line. He shows us what the rest of us missed and brings it to light. I call that courage.
So, I dedicate this independence day to the artist. Thank you for showing us what we would have missed. Thank you for being brave enough to face the tyranny of conformism and doing it anyway. Thank you for taking the risk to make the world a bit more human.
Jay Magidson, Basalt, July 4, 2011