Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #10

One thing all the speakers I heard at the first day of the Adelaide Festival’s Writers Week on Saturday, had in common (apart from being spectacular with words on a page). was a reference the Prime Minister and his government. The relationship between creativity and politics is firmly fused. None of the references were endorsements. Speaking into the space, made by like-minded people, truths we all know, I still felt a touch of boldness is their remarks. There were no gasps, no armed response, all comments met with civic applause.

This act of bringing your two hand together, the left and the right, to mark the moment. An affirmation, acclamation, authorisation. No longer the thought, the voice or performance prepared invisibility, now out in the wild, noticed, witnessed, visible. A polite gentle tinkle, or rip roaring thunder, the measure of the impact translated into the sound hands make when they come together, at scale.

I’ve often used an applause-o-meter in community settings, to gauge or test the efficacy of an idea. Inviting people to clap also serves very well as an engagement tool as well at various intersections in event to welcome, thank and recognise. It never ceases to amaze me how important it is to have some physicality, a bodily response in the mix of participation. The individuals, become a group, even a community in that moment. The collective emerges with a single response.

I have missed these moments so much during the pandemic.

The joy of a gathering arriving at the same conclusion, rising to its feets, scooping up with voices to add to the applause, help me feel part of something bigger. It is visceral, in a way digital experiences will never be. Making something visible that was invisible, through the shared experience, gives me hope. I felt hopeful when I heard the applause from the audiences at Writers Week, the spontaneous and shared response to the call from the writers about our PM. These same people are invisible, individual voters who before too long, will go into ballot boxes and deliver a collective, visible, democratic reply to the invitation of candidates to select them as their representative in our parliament.

When I was working as the CEO of Volunteering SA & NT, i used to say, we get to vote every few years for the government we want, but every day when we gift our time, talents and energy as volunteers, we are making choices for the kind of community we want to live in – one with more trees, safe from bushfires, less violence towards women, where children learn to read, when those infirmed get home delivered meals. and so it goes on.

The applause-o-meter on these contributions to our democracy are often invisible, until they aren’t. They are essential threads in the weave in the tapestry of democracy. These creatives often miss out on hearing the applause of the collective. I am giving thanks for their political acts of bringing more justice, compassion and fashioning visible and durable paths for peace and equity.

Photo by Guillermo Latorre on Unsplash

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