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Now, at the beginning of 2021, I would have liked to write about light, which, beyond the point of equality with darkness, grows continuously until June; about how more than ever I felt its beneficial effect. I wanted to write about another cosmic sign, also magical and bright - the approach, around the holidays, of the two giants, Saturn and Jupiter. Positive vibrations (I would venture to call them sacred), more than ever during the holy holidays, were available, even palpable, and seemed to foreshadow the bright auspices of change after such a gloomy year. Wow... what a relief it could have been! But it wasn't... A violent cloud enveloped the "House of the American People," as the Capitol is called, confirming fears that the darkness is even stronger than the rare cosmic phenomenon. Few would have thought that American democracy could sway so easily. The news shocked the planet.
At a personal level, looking back at the half-century
of life lived in the land of all possibilities, I am grateful for the gifts of unimaginable generosity that this land has given me. I worked in my profession with the greatest possible freedom, I collaborated with first-rate
American artists, both in experimental theater and on Broadway or the Metropolitan Opera, I enjoyed recognition and honors, I managed to create a new program at Columbia University, to train several generations of budding actors and directors (and, at the same time, to learn myself).
Sure, I had loads of luck, but only in America could it lead to accomplishments. Today I feel the need to add: I don't know if that America still exists. At some point, I began to doubt myself.
When intolerance silences any opinion that does not respect the single point of view, freedom of expression (the first amendment) is truncated and, although I am in NY, I am no longer sure that I have not been teleported to Moscow or Beijing because of how strongly the refrain specific to totalitarian regimes has penetrated American life: that famous "If you are not with us, you are against us" - from which I had fled in my youth.
Of course, there have been tensions all the time; for example, I arrived here when nationwide protests about Vietnam were in full swing. But the reality now is completely different, because, over time, a Babylon of divergent currents has intensified, one in which no one is tolerant of anyone, in which each group wants to fiercely impose its own "truth", which automatically produces even more violent reactions on the opposite side. From the left, a strong wind of radicalism blows, young brigades are formed that look terribly like the Soviets of the Bolshevik Revolution.
American political correctness, which has become ubiquitous in universities, has escalated to excesses typical of police states (no wonder the term has been borrowed from Marxist-Leninist
vocabulary!). A good idea -- namely that many injustices need to be repaired -- poorly applied has degenerated into even more injustices, and the academic aspect has been severely altered. The main purpose of the student aligned with the doctrine is no longer to study, but to protest. And in this case, the "unique truth of the party line" is practiced, and those who have other opinions are intimidated and urgently silenced. Initially justified resistance to racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and other phobias has turned into a witch hunt: anyone can be charged, whether guilty or not. The idea of diversity initially appeared in academic circles to create a balance, a bridge, to broaden the students' experience. Today it has the opposite effect: instead of uniting, it divides!
Cancel Culture fiercely copies the communist ideologies of the obsessive decade. It went so far as to demand that Shakespeare be banned, because his writings "are hostile to students of color." Same with Beethoven! The geniuses of universal culture suddenly became "obsolete" and, in addition, it was discovered that they were male and white.
Even the freedom to use words is restricted by party control. A dictatorship, previously unimaginable in the free world, demands that words like "mother", "father", "brother", "sister" be removed from the vocabulary, so as not to hurt the sensibilities of those who do not recognize themselves in them, and the use of terms neutral is imposed, such as parent (in English parent is really neutral, but in Romanian, for example, to avoid "mother", can you say "father Maria"?!). And then what about those who recognize themselves in the forbidden words?! Methods just like in communism, when, if at school I said: "Sir, Professor" I was punished and warned that "Sirs are in prison, here we are Comrades!". I did not think that, after years and years in the free world, I would find again sinister Stalinist ideas! The diabolical desire to control people by censoring language; how sad and sinister!
I had naively believed that America could become paradise on earth. Those who now are prayint for her not to turn into hell are right to be frightened. How will the "unification" of America dreamed of by Biden be possible in this landscape of theater of war?
From the right, just as gloomily, masses of loyal Trump fanatics indoctrinated themselves angrily with the belief that any information circulated on disliked sources is "fake news"! 75 million Americans continue to believe that they have been lied to and stolen, that their votes have been rigged. There would even be mathematical evidence of the theft, which has not been dismantled, so it is possible that in the next four years this extremism born of the natural attachment of the masses to the unjustly dismissed leader will increase. A justified (so they believe) frustration has already accumulated that culminated in the abominable insurrection over the Capitol - a tragic, painful example of aggression on a major symbol of history.
One wonders who or what is going to be canceled, demolished? The Statue of Liberty itself? And by whom!!!
Rightful movements, which began peacefully, such as Black Lives Matter, degenerated into violence (intensified by Antifa, which openly incites gross violence) but at least they did not attack the fundamental institutions of democracy. Of course, racism has always existed and it is outrageous that no solution has been found to date, but where does uncontrolled violence lead?
Like many others, I am not a participant, but a distant spectator; it's hard to have a clear understanding. That's why I write, to understand. Being in New York, not saying anything would be easy, but it's not fair. It's commonplace, it's useless to repeat what everyone sees on breaking news. To express how I feel, whom will it help? Who understands this general cacophony? What actions are necessary and just, which are destructive and absurd?
On the one hand, we know that there has always been corruption and violence in American history, that tensions and animosities have always existed between parties, and yet life has continued normally. A voice whispers to me not to publish this article now, maybe it's too "dramatic", too hot, but to wait patiently for a few months, until things will be clarified in one way or another.
But the facts prove, on the contrary, that the situation is worse than ever and it is worthwhile, instead of victimizing, or pointing the finger at others, to ask ourselves how we are each responsible.
Reality shows that the two forces are in hopeless opposition; one affirms, another denies, or one is active, another reactive, and so on.
In the absence of a third force, the reconciling force, the two can continue to fight without result. Although I refrain from making prophecies, I agree with those who believe that unless a new understanding, a waking up from collective blindness occurs, we will eventually self-destruct.
As reconciliation doesn't seem to be happening, no matter how dramatic I may appear, I think it's a dangerous time (for both America and the planet).
How to return to a state of dignity and calm? Maybe if I try to see in myself the possible virus of rage and frustration that can explode at any time. How can I find a direction that makes sense in the midst of chaos? It would help us to remember that from birth we each have a sacred atom in us.
We are so absorbed in the fierce daily struggle that most of us miss the chance to open ourselves to the only great adventure we are alive for, as Marcus Aurelius said: each man should live in such a way as to do his duty and not stay serene about anything else.
Do we have a duty? Many of us were unaware! Today we are waiting to be owed, not to owe. If we listen to Meister Eckhart, man's moral mission is a process of spiritualization through which he becomes more like God and draws closer to Him. I admit I am light years away from this urge. But it helps to be reminded of it.
I look at the deserted street where I live, as there are many now in New York, which normal times explodes with a more volcanic energy than Etna. From the neighboring building emerges old man, who is, unfortunately, lonely and fragile. He walks very slowly, helped by a frame. He wears a mask; I can't see the expression on his face, but his being, despite the suffering, exudes dignity and a royal calm. How wonderful this old man is! More than ever at this moment I would like to be like him, dignified and spiritually calm.
I need to discover something wonderful in myself. Something that for the moment I know does not seem to exist in the unhinged world we live in, a world in which we only want answers to questions that cannot be answered. However, I feel that, despite the tragic situation of the moment, by contrast this "wonderful thing" is next to us, maybe even in us, but the problem is that we are so far from perceiving it...
We are entering a new era. The past has evaporated and the future is only in the imagination. We only have the present. In fact, we always have only the present. And we have each other! Or rather, we could have each other, if sanitary distancing, conspiracies of all kinds, bunkers being built, and irrational hatred that replaced pity and reason will not leave us even farther from each other, more fearful, and suspicious than before.
The Dalai Lama is convinced that every man on the planet is familiar to him, that he can approach with understanding and affection absolutely anyone, no matter where he is, if he is far away and if he does not speak the same language. Regardless of political affiliation, skin color, sex, etc... no one is a stranger to him. He says: "I'm the same as everyone else, I don't see myself at all different. It's just that at sunrise, in the morning, I try to adjust my attitude a little." Here is someone who has worked with himself and prepared all his life to develop his will to BE, to become a true, responsible man, to be able to play a conscious role in the world. To be a servant of the spirit, but also serving humanity and everything that lives on this earth. Maybe there are others like him. What good examples to follow they could be now when we are all at war with everyone. Maybe we'll decide to throw fewer stones at our peers.
As I have no way to practice my imagination in theater, I dream of utopias!
I wonder what a new Noah's Ark could offer us today.
I don't think it's just a myth, an allegory of esotericism, but also a practical guide to save ourselves in the event of a major disaster.
I imagine that the Ark would have the capacity to shelter all the exiles of the world, all those who suffer and those in great need of peace.
It would not have forgotten the old man who inspires dignity and royal calm.
What a beautiful rescue it would be!
To float on the seas... until the world calms down...