I am 18 years old.
I am at the point where I’m beginning to develop a real political awareness and viewpoint. I have waded tentatively into politics before, often with my high school peers, but it has mostly involved parroting statements from The Colbert Report. Right now, my political consciousness is truly beginning to form. I am wholeheartedly seeking out information and ideas. I am starting to refine and, more importantly, completely understand my viewpoints, along with my rationale behind them.
I am taking my first real steps into politics.
At the same time, however, I am only 18 years old. I am naive and relatively uninformed. I’m still operating on a lower intellectual playing field than many others involved in politics. Neither do I think I have enough knowledge to create fully-formed political ideas, able to withstand tough scrutiny and debate.
However, I still want to try to involve myself in politics, and political discourse. I want to stretch myself, and thereby mature and grow. I want to reach out to people, persuade people, help people. The question is: do I have enough skills and resources to begin doing that? If the answer to the previous question is “yes,” then how should I begin doing that?
Below are some simple lists of what I currently have at my disposal, and what I do not:
What I do NOT have: A vast storehouse of knowledge, the ability to synthesize a great deal of knowledge, experience in political discourse/debate, a fully adult understanding of the world and how I fit into it, etc.
What I do have: a developing and evolving political awareness, a great desire to help people, an obligation to help people as much as I can, a willingness to learn and mature, etc.
What I have more than anything else: A series of deeply emotional experiences, which have irrevocably changed who I am as a person, and an understanding that I will have more of these experiences in the future.
Analysis of previous lists: I don’t have the means of engaging in a highly intellectual debate over political policy. I freely admit, I’m not knowledgeable or mature enough to do so.
On the other hand, I have something else. I have the ability to reach out to people on a more emotional level, a level which I am convinced is fundamentally more persuasive and powerful. The arguments which most people can relate to, and therefore be impacted by, are not the arguments making use of highly abstract notions. They are the arguments which touch upon suffering, joy, tragedy, and triumph. It’s valuable to understand your argument on an intellectual level, as well as an emotional one, and to be able to debate on an intellectual level; but I am not quite at that point, not yet. The most I can hope to do right now is share my tragedies and triumphs, and begin a conversation.
My experiment is to communicate my feelings about a particular political or social issue, while making greatest use of my current abilities, to speak on a purely emotional and experiential level. My hope is that, in the process of doing this, I will master this sort of communication while my intellectual abilities are still growing, so that when I gain full use of those abilities, I will already have perfected the other aspect of political discourse.
In other words, I am going to communicate like an 18-year-old (since I have no choice in that matter), but god d-mn, I’m going to do it as best and as effectively as I can!
How, then, do I communicate in a purely emotional/experiential way?
The answer I’ve come up with is abstract art.
Let me try to explain.
When I say “abstract art,” I’m not only referring to the visual arts, but to any artistic expression which is totally abstract, such as music sans lyrics, or asemic writing. Human beings naturally interpret things on an emotional/kinda-experiential level. When someone cries out in pain, their cry contains no meaning as such, no semantic content, yet you know, without any prior learning, that person’s current emotions, and you have a rough idea of their recent experiences. We can study these instinctive responses, and gain a deep understanding of how people interpret abstract sounds, shapes, colours, etc. This provides us a way of communicating directly to that instinctive part of our brain, which understands such things as pathos and ethos, but not logos.
So I wrote a little piano song. The specific subject of the song is explicitly stated in the title and description.
The song attempts to articulate my feelings and my experiences associated with being part of the LGBT community. This is an issue which I have a great deal of footing in, so I thought it would be an apt start for my experiment.
As I said in the title, this is an experiment in political discourse. I want people to respond to it, in whatever way they feel is most appropriate. I want to reach out to people, and to ultimately get a reaction of one sort or another.
I am 18 years old.
I will be leaving home and starting college in a few days. It is time for me to begin using my skills to the greatest extent I can, and to fulfill my obligations as a citizen of a representative democracy. My first step is a strange one, but it is only my first step, and I am excited to see which path this excursion starts me on.
It’s gonna be a helluva journey.