On Tour: West Long Branch, NJ

16 Nov

November 9, 2016 | Love Thy Nature | West Long Branch, NJ

Let’s heal together, rejoice, and roll up our sleeves. We got a lot of work to do.

November 9th, 2016. Like most Americans, I had little sleep that night and woke up to what felt like a living nightmare. The political candidate that was running a bullying campaign based on disrespect for immigrants, racial division, misogyny, and a number of other positions that were an assault to our most basic American goodness and values won the electoral vote – becoming the 45th president of our beloved country.

Like millions of people, I was in shock and all I wanted to do was to crawl in a fetal position or cry on the phone with loved ones. But instead, I had to fulfill my obligation to pack, hit the road, and prepare for my next Love Thy Nature screening (at Monmouth University) with a mission to inspire yet another audience.

Inspire an audience??!! That seemed like an impossible task, when I couldn’t stop myself from weeping the entire road trip from Blue Bell, PA to Eatontown, NJ! “One step at a time, Sylvie,” I kept telling myself.

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The weather prediction had been sunshine and yet, it was pouring rain – a perfect symbolism to what happened with the election.  When I arrived at Monmouth, the Center of the Arts director, Vaune Peck, came to greet me and I was comforted by the realization that the school team were in a similar mental state as my own. So, we talked politics before the event and managed to giggle over a social media image where our president-elect (known for bragging about sexually assaulting women) was groping the statue of liberty.

I didn’t have a high expectation in terms of turn out, thinking our core audience would be depressed and unwilling to leave the comfort of their homes. Let’s face it, this is a film about love of nature, self and each other; ecological awareness; and being the change we wish to see in the world – ideals that were defeated at the ballot.

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To my surprise, more than 50 people attended our Love Thy Nature event, even as a sense of gloom in the room was very palpable.  Some had mentioned that they came to the screening because they couldn’t stand being home that night… it was too painful. So, after the screening, I felt I had to validate people’s feelings before any Q&A about the film. I encouraged our audience members to take time to grieve, feel their emotions, connect with loved ones, and connect with Mother Nature as she’s a potent healing balm.

I also reminded them that human evolution is not a straight line. We take steps forward but we also take steps back. But as Martin Luther King wisely said, “The long arc of history bends towards justice.” If we think about it, it was less than one hundred years ago that women didn’t even have the right to vote, less than 200 years ago that people were enslaved just because of the color of their skin, and 3,000 years ago the Greek political elite was fighting the advent of democracy, as individual freedom seemed too chaotic. So, in the big picture, love always wins.

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But we can’t deny it: if what was promised on the campaign trail comes to fruition, the next few years will be grim – even dangerous – for America and the world in many ways. But if we take the time to grieve now and nourish our spirit through connection with each other and nature, we will find the strength to organize and fight for this precious country and planet of ours. Let’s heal together, rejoice, and roll up our sleeves. We got a lot of work to do.

Wishing you nature.

Post provided by On Screen/In Person touring filmmaker, Sylvie Rokab

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