When All You Can Say is “What Do We Do Now?”

Emily Ann Peterson
Nov 10, 2016 · 2 min read

You should see my Facebook feed. Every artist I know (which is a lot of them) are taking arms with paintbrushes, poetry, song, and even knitting needles. My friend Kaitlin tagged me in a challenge alongside this quote from Toni Morrison,

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That’s how civilizations heal.”

Kaitlin then continued with her commission,

“You were born ready for this moment, artists. Create. We can do hard things.”

They’re both right. Toni and Kaitlin reiterated what I knew to be true the second Florida’s projected results came in on Tuesday night:

Art makes us listen. It consoles the creator and the consumer of it. It makes space for healing. It calls us to listen to each other. It turns simple words into pure power. It supports those who stand to protect us against bullies. It changes hearts, minds, and souls.

But most of all, art makes us listen.

Which is what I believe our country needs most, to listen to each other. Both the red and blue states are filled with people who are terrified that they will lose their significance if things change directions. I fully believe that listening to each other is what will reunite these divided States of America.

Though this week’s episode of Bare Naked Bravery is not politically charged, it is very much applicable to this week’s news events. Filmmaker Nick Conedera, (who I’m sure has opinions about our country’s politics, but did not divulge them) joined us to talk about his bootstrapping confessions and how to slice through resistance.

Even though our conversation did not veer into vitriolic, polarizing subject matter, you can consider it a primer in listening to someone with a different experience than your own. Nick and I flipped the typical interview/interviewee script around.

Listening to this week’s episode is a great place to start practicing our next steps as a nation.

So What Do You Do When All You Can Do is Say “What Now?”

We listen.

to each other.

As our future unfolds in the next months and years, one thing will stay the same: we have so many questions to ask of each other.

May we have the ears to listen.

May we have the heart to hear.


Emily Ann Peterson

PS — If you’ll need more of this kind of encouragement later, you can subscribe to my email list.

PPS — Forward this along to someone (an artist?) who needs it, okay?

Emily Ann Peterson

Written by

songwriter, creative consultant, podcast host and author of “Bare Naked Bravery: How to Be Creatively Courageous” (out Jan. 28th!)