By Varun Rangaswamy
To my fellow students around the nation: now is not the time to blindly yell and scream without listening, nor to attack without thinking; now is the time to accept our mistakes as a society and engage in civil discourse. After the initial shock subsides, we must organize, we must present a focused discussion, a focused argument. Rather than complain about the results, we must resist.
There are many ways to resist. Blocking a freeway can make a statement; it can also get students run-over. Trump–along with the ridiculous ideologies associated with him–is far less concerned with the general welfare and compassion for all people than with the preservation of privilege. Trump is also unreasonable, irrational, and reactionary. We cannot combat this reactionary force by being reactionary; rather, it is our responsibility as citizens of the world to present thoughtful opposition to oppression, to engage in civil discourse, to educate each other with compassion, and to resist peacefully.
The future of this undeniable struggle relies entirely on compassion and peace. If the opposition is not founded upon these qualities, it will fail. Effective resistance is compassionate and peaceful. Ineffective resistance is violent, reckless, and impetuous.
Above all, the Artistic Statement is the most powerful form of resistance. The musician, the composer, the painter, the poet, the author, the actor, the filmmaker, the photographer–those who practice these disciplines, among many others, are an indispensable asset in the face of crude domination. The creation of art is the most effective way to peacefully and intelligently communicate our deepest feelings to one another. By exchanging deeply personal artistic statements, we achieve a higher level of communication. By exchanging artistic statements, we educate each other in a creative, engaging way. By exchanging artistic statements, we encapsulate and preserve important parts of our own humanity that can never be destroyed by insults, harsh words or irrational actions.
Being an artist is necessarily an intrinsic truism of every human being. Art is achieved not only through trade and profession. We are all artists in our daily manipulation and crafting of the human form, each and every one of us. In our daily struggle to find ourselves, to define our identities, to establish our roles in a tumultuous world, we are artists by impulse. There is no use either in repressing that impulse, nor in letting that impulse run wild. To let our art live for itself, for it to become a tangible extension of ourselves, it is necessary that we cultivate it, that we care for it, that we organize it, and that we express it. The expressivity achieved in struggling, organizing our impulses into cohesive statements, and pushing forward with them, is the most important facet of the human race.
I intend here to remove any separations between the Artistic Statement, the political establishment, and civil discourse. Everything is intertwined. By engaging with one another, by communicating in effective, compassionate, and peaceful ways, we can start to heal the wounds effected by oppression and hate. By expressing to one another our intuitions about the human condition, by addressing the oppressors via the ultimate medium of art, we can, indeed, change the current state of affairs.
We can improve. We can heal. We can achieve peace.
A second-year undergraduate music composition major at the University of California, San Diego, Varun Rangaswamy has been learning to sing Indian classical music since he was 4 years old. Continuing through grade school, he later developed a predilection for the saxophone, the guitar, and the bassoon, and soon began composing original music. Along with his musical pursuits came his literary ones. Taking a great liking to writing personal journals and essays, Varun quickly developed his writing skills and now uses them as a tool in communicating his ideas to the world.