The Great Work Begins
election reflections from a theatre nerd
I struggled to capture the feeling the 2020 election left in my spirit. Torn between well-deserved celebration, and still weighed down by crushing horror-- I reached for my well-worn copy of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America and turned to the last page.
"This disease will be the end of many of us, but not nearly all, and the dead will be commemorated and will struggle on with the living, and we are not going away. We won't die secret deaths anymore. The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come.
You are fabulous creatures, each and every one.
And I bless you: More Life.
The Great Work Begins."
-Tony Kushner, Angels In America
Keyword: BEGINS. Angels in America(/Perestroika) is a ~8 hour play that ends with the word “begins”. THIS is how I feel. So, by all means, celebrate! But that celebration cannot lull us into a sense of stagnant complacency... rather we must let that joy propel us forward to more work, more life!
The bar has been raised from the basement to the floor, but we should not confuse that ascent with what an ascent from the floor to the ceiling would look like. It feels GOOD to know that more Americans wanted Trump out of office than in, but this is the floor not the ceiling. It feels GOOD to know that after 244 years of our nation’s existence, a woman of color has risen to the ranks of executive power, but this is the floor not the ceiling. It feels GOOD to have a President who acknowledges the reality of systemic racism in this country rather than dog-whistling to white nationalists, but this is the floor not the ceiling. It feels GOOD that the guy who said “hey maybe let’s count all the votes” won instead of the guy who said “stop the count- I’m losing”, but this is the floor not the ceiling. It feels GOOD to have a President who includes the disabled community in his remarks with respect rather than outright mockery, but this is the floor not the ceiling. It feels GOOD to have a President who listens to infectious disease experts and will undoubtedly save the lives of countless Americans by actually taking COVID seriously, but this is the floor not the ceiling. It feels GOOD to see other world leaders feel like they don’t have to babysit us on the world stage anymore, but this is the floor not the ceiling. Whatever issue you’d like to insert into the formula, the election of Joe Biden is the floor. It’s a floor I’m happy to be standing on. But let’s keep moving upwards.
Enormous injustice exists. That was true before 45 and it will be true with 46. We may now have a better chance of remedying it, but only if we remain critically engaged. The great work BEGINS.