Changing the structure and rules of the global economy will require a mass movement based on messages of compassion, justice, and equality, as well as collaborative and democratic processes…If we stay positive, inclusive, and democratic, we have a truly historic opportunity to build a global movement for social justice.
The future will have no pity for those who, possessing the exceptional privilege to speak words of truth to the oppressor, instead take refuge in cynical indifference and cold complicity.
The history of tomorrow is the struggle, which has already begun, between conquerors and artists…Political action and artistic creation are the two faces of the same revolt against the world’s disorder, the same desire to give the world unity.
–Albert Camus (1947)
For me the process of art and the idea of political freedom have always been inextricably mixed, not always theoretically, but since I can remember, in feeling.…Within the human psyche…poetry is a secret way through which we can restore authenticity to ourselves.
This is perhaps why poetry has been so important to feminism and the feminist movement. Language itself had made us invisible to ourselves. The very vocabulary we inherited locked us into a diminished state of being.
–Susan Griffin, "Poetry as a Way of Knowledge"
When art is made new, we are made new with it. We have a sense of solidarity with our own time, and of psychic energies shared and redoubled, which is just about the most satisfying thing that life has to offer.
It is not hard work which is dreary; it is superficial work.
My responsibility as an artist is to work, to sing for my supper; to make art, beautiful and powerful, that adds and reveals; to beautify the mess of a messy world, to heal the sick and feed the helpless; to shout bravely from the roof-tops and storm barricaded doors and voice the specificity of our historical moment.
–Carrie Mae Weems
Again and again some people in the crowd wake up,
They have no ground in the crowd,
And they emerge according to much broader laws.
They carry strange customs with them
And demand room for bold gestures.
The future speaks ruthlessly through them.
–Ranier Maria Rilke
So I go on like an ignoramus who knows only one thing: In a few years I must finish a certain work. I need not rush myself too much–there is no good in that, but I must work on in complete calmness and serenity, as regularly and fixedly as possible. The world concerns me only in so far as I feel a certain indebtedness and duty toward it because I have walked this earth for thirty years, and, out of gratitude, want to leave some souvenir in the shape of drawings or pictures–not made to please a certain taste in art, but to express a sincere human feeling. So this work is my aim–and when one concentrates on that one idea, everything one does is simplified in that it is not chaotic, but all done with one object in mind.
–Vincent Van Gough, (1883) Letter to his brother, Theo, seven years before his death.
Thinking about the people in this floating world
Far into the night–
My sleeve is wet with tears.
If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself.
If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself.
Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.
–Hua Hu Ching: The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu (Trans. B. Walker)
To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things.
The feminist and ecological critiques of modern Western patriarchal society are the most profound because they address the deepest assumptions.
The cities are gasping in polluted air and enduring contaminated water.
–Martin Luther King Jr. (1967)
Contrary to conventional wisdom, black Americans have not been indifferent to environmental values; there is, in fact, a rich tradition of black environmental thought. [W. E. B.] Du Bois and many other black writers–including Henry Bibb, Martin Delany, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, Alain Locke, Jean Toomer, and Langston Hughes–had a great deal to say about how slavery and racial oppression affected back Americans’ relationship to the land, and their arguments offer valuable insights into humans’ relationship to nature in general. Their works belong in the canon of American environmentalism.
–Kimberly K. Smith, African American Environmental Thought: Foundations
The people who are the color of earth shall never again be silenced.
For those who are awake the cosmos is one.
It is only the things that we don’t understand that have any meaning.
–C. G. Jung