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AWTT Urges Dialogue on Difficult Issues

Americans Who Tell the Truth – and founding artist Robert Shetterly – recognize that the truth isn’t always obvious or easily discovered. We must search hard for answers. Turning away, or closing our eyes, to the harsh realities is not a solution.

This past month, Shetterly dug into the written word to explore his truths. Besides painting those whose truthfulness speaks to him, he converses with others about their views. He demonstrates – speaking truth to power. And he writes. Since the outbreak of war in Gaza, Shetterly has shared four new blog posts. In the first, On War & Palestine, Shetterly ponders the violence of this and past wars, distraught by their cyclical nature. “The rage with which the Israelis are now obliterating Gaza is the twisted mirror image of the rage of the Hamas terrorists.” In the second blog piece, he turns to humor, toying with his overuse of the verb “appalled.” “Often it seems that being appalled has little effect, like energetically waving an invisible flag. Those powers intent on doing the things that appall me could care less what I feel. And, of course, I’m simply one of millions of people who feel the same way–both being appalled and feeling invisible. Perhaps we should form a third political party: The Appalled. Enough people being appalled, like they were by George Floyd’s murder, can make a difference. The Appalled Party could run on that: Make the Appalling Visible!” In both essays, he reveals his vulnerability – and the rage that drives him to paint and write. Read more from Rob’s Blog.

Chris Hedges Awtt Portrait

More contributors to the discussion about war in Israel and Palestine – its causes, its possible outcomes and solutions – include AWTT portrait subjects Dennis Kucinich, Chris Hedges and Alice Rothchild.

In a short video titled The Nothingness of a War Consciousness, Kucinich pleads for “a new peaceful co-existence which recognizes the inner equality of all … Let us take the side of peace. Let us take the side of reconciliation. Let us speak out against this descent into madness….”

In The Chris Hedges Report on Substack, Hedges has focused most of his recent videos on Palestine. He offers a voice that is rare in the U.S. media, focusing on the long-standing Israeli occupation of Palestine and the oppression – and now killing – of Palestinians by an alliance of powerful nations.

Dr Alice Rothchild Awtt Portrait

Jewish physician, author, and filmmaker Alice Rothchild also provides us with the under-reported perspective of the ongoing reality by publishing letters from young Gazans titled “Writing While Expecting to Die.”

James Hansen Awtt Portrait

While the headlines’ focus on war, the battle against the climate crisis does not go away. At age 82, climate scientist James Hansen continues to shine the truth on this vital issue. A widely-reported new study lead by Hansen warns that the Earth’s climate is on track to warm significantly more than shown by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) earlier projections. Hansen “calls on climate scientists to embrace the responsibilities medical professionals have to their patients. He argues they have been too reticent and conservative to lay out the full ramifications of warming.” The above-linked Axios article goes on to outline some dissenting views among scientists as to the degree of acceleration. Again, the dialogue is the vehicle.

AWTT Portrait of Clifford Ryan

In mid-October Mainers were forced to face the reality that “yes, it can happen here.” More guns, more violence, forcing Mainers to dig deeper – as Jared Golden did – when he experienced first-hand the consequences of our current policies. In early November, the Penobscot Theater Dramatic Academy in Bangor, ME, presented a staged reading of ENOUGH, Plays to End Gun Violence. This was part of a nationwide reading in venues across the country in partnership with the Kennedy Center.  AWTT’s portrait of community violence interventionist Clifford Ryan and his biography were on display. Americans Who Tell the Truth and Moms Demand Action were supporters of the event. Powerful and moving, the six plays written by teens reflected on the many ways that guns are in our lives: school shootings; parents grappling with their transgender college-aged child, whom they hadn’t totally accepted, being shot at a bar; a black student being wrongly chased by a white cop; and more. ENOUGH! 2023 National Reading Welcome Video offers an overview, including students’ perspectives on how their dramatic art can promote dialogue and inspire change.

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