Love and Kindness, and other Hateful Things

Yes, that title sounds cynical, but it’s not. Here are a few things that have happened recently, culminating in today – Valentine’s Day.

Yellow Tree Theater opened a production of Clybourne Park, the hilarious and touching, Pulitzer- and Tony-winning play about race, race relations, and loving (or not) one’s neighbor. I was able to watch a run-through before their tech week, and I look forward to seeing the finished product.

I love this script because it touches on the heart of how we treat one another in so many different facets, and it does so through humor – sometimes uncomfortable humor. Reading or watching this play you might find yourself laughing, and then feeling uncomfortable because you laughed. And then a moment later, while laughing, something truly touching or disturbing sideswipes you and you stop laughing.

Sometimes much like life itself.

One of the fascinating factors of this script is in its premise: the story of our racial and ethnic divide as told through one neighborhood – and more specifically – one single household, fifty years apart. In the end, we discover that not much may have changed over the time span except the way we talk about race. In the 1950s we were all a bit more plain-spoken in our stance, whereas today our language has become nuanced, coded and even deceptive. In either case, there are people doing hateful things in the name of love for family, protection and preservation.

In light of modern-day events, such as racial profiling, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the politically charged discussions by and about anti-Muslim leaders over immigration and refugees…..well, I think Yellow Tree picked the perfect time to produce this play, and to let us all take a good look in the mirror.

Last week I did a segment on Minnesota Public Radio’s Art Hounds podcast to promote this production, because, between the script and the expectations I have of the theater and the artists involved, I anticipate it being something not to be missed.

And speaking of hateful things, Justice Antonin Scalia died this weekend, and Marco Rubio ended a debate by going back to the “marriage is between one man and one woman” remarks. I know I don’t talk politics here, so I’ll keep it brief. But somehow, in light of this play that I’ve had on my mind, and these things in the news, and sitting here looking at roses on Valentine’s Day – the confluences struck me. Whatever happened to “do unto others…” and “love they neighbor”? Why is there so much hate, anger, and distrust in our society?

What does it mean to be part of a community, or of a society, and what’s our individual responsibilities to that? 

These are the things that Clybourne Park (and this week’s news) make me think about.

Love thy neighbor……Happy Valentine’s Day.




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