#96 – Creating Community as an Art

We are all doing the best we can considering the circumstances of our life. However, we could all do better if we change some of those circumstances. It often works something like this: Our lives present us with problems and most of us struggle to create solutions to those problems. However, that creative process often falls short of a viable solution. Strangely enough the world of art can provide us with some insights that could help with that.

Insights can not only suggest a change of direction, that is to say which direction we should go, but also can reveal where we are at the moment. For example, how are American musicians feeling about their nation lately (2019)? “There’s an oddly strong in-the-moment consensus on how everyone is feeling these days, and it is not good.” (1)

Not to leave out artists in other parts of the world we turn to Asghar Farhadi, arguably the most successful director in the history of Iranian cinema. Having insights that you as an artist might want to express is one thing, having the courage to do so is another. In Iran, a conservative theocracy, Farhadi risked telling the truth about issues that the government didn’t want to deal with. Nevertheless, he skillfully ran the gauntlet of censorship by the politicians.

“A deal was struck, and at 23, Farhadi was writing, directing and producing his own TV show, ‘A Tale of a City.’ It followed a team of fictional documentarians who, in each episode, made a program about a family or group struggling with a different social issue: poverty, immigration, drug addiction, AIDS. Although scenes were sometimes cut by the censors, the series was widely watched.” (2)    Artists around the world are helping to initiate discussions about issues that all of us have to deal with personally or collectively.

However, it’s important for all of us to understand that social issues and other problems like global warming are “symptoms.” To get at the actual causes of the challenges we are all facing we must be able to accept the simple reality that a radical shift in paradigm, identity and behavior are called for.

For example, outmoded religious beliefs are an obstacle to the necessary redefinition in our human community’s beliefs, attitudes and values. “How people responded to Farhadi’s film seemed to correlate with their feelings about the Green Movement, which had broad support among the metropolitan middle class but was opposed by religious conservatives.” (2)

“I believe that every character in my films has reasons for their wrongdoings, and that if we gave them time they’d be able to explain those reasons to the rest of us.” (2)   Those reasons, however, may not be the real reasons and that’s why we all have to come together in “consciousness-raising” discussions if we have any hope of finding solutions to the challenges raised in Farhadi’s TV series. Those challenges are universal and the solutions also have to be global in scope.

Insight # 96:   “You make your own reality. There is no other rule. Knowing this is the secret of creativity.”   –Seth



  1. Abebe, Netsuh. “The 25 Songs That Matter Right Now.” The New York Times Magazine. March 10, 2019, page 14.
  2. Harvey , Giles. “The Universalist Asghar.” The New York Times Magazine. February 3, 2019, pages 32-33.

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