Peace or Hate?

Why do people destroy what others create? First the painting, then the inspiration behind it and an update. Do you choose peace or hate?

Watch me paint this angel and dove in 2 minutes (time lapse)

"Bonaventure Cemetery was made famous when one of its sculptures, a statue known as 'Bird Girl', was featured as a book cover and in the movie 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil'. The statue was such an attraction that it needed to be removed to preserve it from the many hands of tourists, and damage from vandals as well. It was relocated to the art museum (Telfair Museums’ Telfair Academy), where I was able to view it. Angel statues in the historic Savannah cemeteries inspired me to paint an angel in a similar pose and style to the stone sculptures. My angel is in full color with a fantasy landscape as if giving life to what was cold and dead. As fall represents death yet contradicts itself in color, forecasting an impending stillness yet change, visiting the memorials felt much like the changing of seasons. There was peace and beauty yet bittersweet, as endings and loss permeate the grounds."

- from the book "50 Oil Paintings Inspired by Savannah, Georgia" by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

Update to the above story…

When I wrote that description and gave mention to the angel statue needing to be moved so that it would not be destroyed by vandals, I had no way of knowing that I too would need to move my angel (from virtual- but nonetheless real- spaces) to protect her from being destroyed. Worse, I needed to move her to protect myself from being destroyed, attacked and “cancelled”. For what was meant to be a gift of peace to anyone and everyone who wished to view my oil paintings, became a target for acts of hate.

Sometimes I am attacked as a person. Sometimes it’s over something I’ve written, posted, or shared. Other times, the attacks are over a specific work. In this case, a mob took issue with the race of my angel. I make no apologies for painting a classical style angel, nor for painting figures who resemble people in my family. I will never accept guilt for things I am not guilty of. However, since it was clear that this mob had no intention of ending their hate campaign, I disabled all comments and moved my art away from platforms that give these despicable people access to me and my work.

Just like the original statue that inspired me to paint an outdoor-nature-scene angel featuring a bird, I had to “move” my angel to protect her from being destroyed. Why do people destroy things that others create? Why do they want to hurt artists and others who share words, music, or art? These things do no harm to anyone, even if the content feels hostile or unwelcome. The answer to disagreement is to create counter arguments, not destroy what others create.

I’ve many experiences with hate, and some of those involve legal crimes committed against me. For this and many other reasons I’m no longer active on social media. Because I removed myself from that world, my work is seen by only a few (for now; I expect that to change). As a blacklisted person I was censored on all major tech platforms anyway, and I’ve had to learn how to navigate these digital means of communication around the many blockades set before me. At this point, I have let go of these concerns. Whoever is meant to see my art will see it. It is more important that I refuse to let people destroy me.

For whatever we intend for peace, we must protect from those who wish to destroy it (us). It’s not enough to create and then cower as passive victims. Never let hyenas surround and attack you until you are destroyed. Be the lion who walks away from them all, with nothing but a few tears to his mane. We are at spiritual war with those who want to control expression; with those who have installed themselves as arbiters of what is acceptable, what is good, and what is evil. 

When we know the intentions of our hearts and we are not guilty, we must not act as if we are. When unjustly attacked, do not argue your case. Move your spirit and your work to a protected space. We validate the mob when we defend ourselves, as we validate that there is an argument to refute. Lies, smears, character defamation and slander/libel are not valid arguments. Do not consent to hate.

I used the word “peace” in my blog title instead of love. Often, we hear the false dichotomy of “love or hate”. This idea that we have only two choices is not true. There are other options we can choose. It’s unrealistic to expect us to love each other, if using a definition of love that requires too much of ourselves. The type of love for one’s enemy is more like “peace”. 

We must not choose bitterness, resentment, and a vengeful nature, as it will consume us as our enemies desire. But we are not forced into an illogical fallacy of love or hate. We may choose peace.

I choose peace for my enemies. It’s a type of love that I can offer authentically. Peace releases me from the anger, resentment and despondency that I may otherwise feel if I cannot let go and forgive. Loss of hope and loss of courage are what the enemy wants. 

Depression of spirit can destroy creation. And that is what the true end game is! Enemies seek to destroy not only what has been created, but the creators themselves, and ultimately the act of creation.

It’s difficult to understand this type of pettiness, evil and desire to control others, and perhaps it’s too horrible of a reality for some to believe. Therefore people hold fast to the idea that such evil and thirst for control does not exist. But if one believes in love, one must acknowledge hate and a raw malice that has no respect for human life, not even the helpless and vulnerable, not even children and babies. 

We hope for peace when we know war. Never deny the dangers of this world, but always stand firm in courage. Even the smallest acts of standing our ground lead to big movements, in which peace wins over hate. Let no one stop you from creating what is in your heart.

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