Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Is this... Tone Deaf?

I see a lot of these, on Pinterest, and Instagram. Christmas and holiday themed illustrations, happy little vignettes of our best hopes and wishes. Last year I made one of my own. I think of it as a mood calendar, a way to artistically express our hopeful plans and traditions for the holidays. I keep ours in an open, family space, as a low-key reminder of important dates, and key events I want everyone to be mindful of. I love how many variations and themes there are, the simple and folksy style, the personal touches. But.

This one has been bugging me all day.

These are wishes, ideals. And they are expressions of desires, goals. Right?

The thing is. What about the homeless guy? And how is the depiction of someone sleeping on the sidewalk a part of CARE?

Do we CARE about people without housing? Do we CARE about immigrants, refugees? Do we CARE about the issues of mental health, drug and alcohol addiction? Do we CARE about the lack of universal healthcare, mental healthcare, in this country? Painting an unsheltered human, shut out by a literal wall, from warmth, comfort, and the beauty of the season... I don't think this is a very good way to illustrate CARE. It seems to say, 'We see them, and we care, so we are going to put them in a Christmas color coordinated sleeping bag, and hip beanie.' And there they stay. On the ground. Shut out. Why not a picture of one person handing another a gift, or a painting of someone building a shelter, or volunteering in a shelter? Even wearing a mask, would show care. All of the other images are things we admire, or wish to attain, they are goals, actions. Homeless dude looks trapped, perpetually on the ground, which may evoke our concern, but... how's is this helpful or hopeful, or inspiring? How is this in line with goals and actions? I am not offended by the depiction of poverty, suffering. I don't ask that we brush all suffering aside for the sake of sticking to merry and bright themes. But, I don't think care is well represented by merely noticing that people are hurting, and depicting them in a tidy ornamental scene is no favor, either.

Care is voting for representatives that will pass legislation... laws and policy that provide for social safety nets, like healthcare, shelters, counseling, education. Care is lifting people up, with opportunity, respect, kindness, and resources. Care is contributing to feed the hungry by volunteering, and donating food, or money. Care is sharing time, kindness, and volunteering. Care is checking in on a neighbor, reaching out to someone alone, or struggling.

Maybe, I missed something. I am reluctant to criticize. I want to keep this constructive, even though my reaction was wth? And thank God the artist decided not to add "CARE" to the coffee mug they're selling. And, well, at least it got me thinking about care, about what I think caring means, and how I can do more to be conscious of hardships and the needs of others, during the holidays, and throughout the year, so that I can act more mindfully for the good of all.


Nicole said...

Wow, that seems really insensitive. Surely there must be a better way to illustrate caring!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Thank you, Nicole. You put it succinctly, which is how I wish I had done it!

Janece said...

Yes to all of this!