Sing, Dammit..

Later this morning, I will give a brief talk at a brunch for the Indianapolis Women’s Chorus.

What’s that old saying about music having charm to soothe the savage beast? (Actually, the original–correct–version is “Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast,” but I sort of prefer the bastardized version, since I’ve been in a pretty savage and beastly mood lately.) At any rate, the Women’s Chorus makes beautiful music, and I’m looking forward to the performance portion of the program.

Here are the brief remarks I plan to share.


I am honored to be here today, not just because the Women’s Chorus makes beautiful music, but because your mission, and your celebration of diversity, has never been more important.

Like many of you, I have been depressed and frightened since last November’s election. That election rewarded a campaign based almost entirely on appeals to American resentments–on appeals to ignorance, racism, misogyny and homophobia–and it left me wondering what had happened to the country I thought I lived in.

In the wake of that election, though, I’ve been energized and amazed to see unprecedented levels of civic engagement, from the Women’s March to the marches in support of science and the environment, to the turnouts at Congressional Town Halls across the country, to new activist groups springing up every day. Here in Indiana, Women4Change was organized last November, after the election; today it has close to 14,000 members.

We are not alone. And we can learn a number of lessons from what has come to be called “the Resistance.”  Let me just share three of them:

  • Lesson number one: We the People are not helpless. When so many Americans rise up and demand better policies and better government—when we let our elected officials know that we won’t continue to allow them to enact policies that take from the poor and give to the rich, that we won’t continue to turn a blind eye to corruption and cronyism, that we will refuse to let racist, sexist and homophobic tactics divide us—we can prevail.
  • Lesson number two is particularly gratifying to old feminists like me: women can and will empower other women. Women can and will stand up for our right to self-determination, our right to equal pay for equal work, our right to control our own reproduction, and our right to live our lives on our own terms. We can and will encourage more feminists—female and male– to run for public office, and we can and will support them when they do.
  • Lesson number three is one that members of the Indy Women’s Chorus know well: the performing and visual arts are inherently and powerfully political. Not partisan, but political and progressive. More hearts and minds have been changed through story and song than through blog posts and editorials—and I say that as someone who has a blog and writes editorials. The arts—music, dance, theater, painting—are what separate humans from animals; communication through the arts touches and teaches us in profound and moving ways.

I applaud what you do, and I am so grateful to be a part of today’s event. Thank you for asking me!


  1. Thank you for keeping me sane …

    Love your blog … a wonderful, very much appreciateted, refreshing breeze of healthy, clean air… feels fabulous !

    Warm greetings from France, birthplace of “MakeOurPlanetGreatAgain”..

    And yes, I’m singing ! 😉


  2. One of my good friends is in the chorus. When I hear about all the horrid legislation trump and the repubs propose and enact, I think of her and her wife because they will be directly affected by so much of it due to their health conditions and disabilities. Nevertheless, she sings!

  3. Music is good for what ails you. VOGUE magazine even said to sing–long ago. My mother and her sisters sang as they cleaned house. Family reunions were mostly about food and singing. People can’t argue when they’re singing. I recommend it. Have fun!

  4. One of my good friends, a PhD and former presidential library archivist, age 85, is a singer. He is also an artist. My singing ability is non-existent and I cannot draw a straight line with a ruler. This man is multi-talented and Sheila is right on with her pro-singing speech. It’s hard to hate when singing, but since I cannot sing I have to find new ways not to hate and I have found them in both the secular and religious worlds: Treat your neighbor as you would have your neighbor treat you, and all without the superficialities of gender, race etc. That works too.

  5. I love IWC and the 2 of you are a match made in heaven. This is a wonderful podt, as are most of your posts. I agree, singing and other forms of art, touch people in ways that transcend politics and partisanship. They go straight for the heart, and there we are all more alike, than different. Please keep writing, keep fighting, keep singing and definitely keep working with IWC!

  6. Thank you for supporting the IWC. It was an honor to serve as the IWC’s first president over twenty years ago, and it is wonderful to watch it continue to pursue a mission of communication and acceptance through the art of music. Song and music bring light to the darkness, and touches the soul. Am enjoying and appreciate your blog postings. And, as said in the comment above, “Please keep writing, keep fighting, keep singing and definitely keep working with IWC!”

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