Sunday, July 06, 2008

Interview with Patti Digh

My friend, Patti Digh, who writes the increasingly well-known 37 Days blog and who I came to know when I was conducting reading groups for my production of Thousand Kites last fall, has a new book coming out called Life Is a Verb. I am looking forward to reading the new book when it is released. Until then, there is a great interview of her on the AOL Canada website, and I recommend her blog, where she posted on Independence Day the following words:

On this day of celebration in the U.S., it is too easy to take for granted the freedoms we enjoy here. Let's pause--amidst the rambunctious grilling of soy burgers and the shopping for extra long jersey knit sky blue dorm room sheets--to list the freedoms we have.

Go ahead. I'll wait.

Fold up that list and put it in your wallet. Pull it out the next time you get angry at the radio talk show host who's talking trash because he disagrees with you. Freedom means opening the space for him, just as wide as the space you open for yourself. I wonder what we could create in the world if we purposefully engaged in dialogue whose intention is co-created, generative action rather than dialogue whose intention is to negate the other person, the other Party, the other religion or sexual orientation or nation?

Good advice for those of us in the blogosphere. myself included, who lean a little too heavily toward dialogue as a way of negating the other person, and to artists in general who sometimes have a hard time opening the space in ourselves for those whose values we do not share.

She concludes:

The fourth of July always reminds me of a favorite quote from a favorite book, Art & Fear: "The American Revolution was not financed with matching grants from the Crown." If we want freedom, we must act. Great change doesn't come with official endorsement. It also doesn't come from a negative intention, but from a generative one.
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5 comments:

Mac said...

"I wonder what we could create in the world if we purposefully engaged in dialogue whose intention is co-created, generative action rather than dialogue whose intention is to negate the other person, the other Party, the other religion or sexual orientation or nation?"

That almost sounds like she's describing... civility.

Scott Walters said...

I know. What a concept. And yes, her finger points directly at me.

Paul Rekk said...

But how, I question, do you conclude that by namechecking the American Revolution?

Of course I understand the thought process that leads to that connexion, but there are two distinct approaches to progress that are being raised here, and while neither is "correct", it seems a bit odd to me to use an example of one so immediately after deeply praising the other.

Scott Walters said...

Paul -- I think Patti would say that they are not mutually exclusive.

patti digh said...

Scott - thanks for this kind mention of my post. I appreciated reading your take on it as well as that of your commenters. I loved the question raised by Paul - he raises a wonderful point. I wonder if revolution is sometimes the most creative, generative, communal act we can take - a necessary break for constructive dialogue to take root, perhaps... thanks for the food for thought!