I Bought a Bike...(and helped change the world!)
Last Monday night May 2nd, the Hilton Hotel in Universal City hosted East West Players 45th Anniversary Visionary Awards Dinner & Silent Auction; an annual dinner and fundraiser honoring the latest and longest in Asian American talent.
East West Players is the longest standing theater of color in United States history.
I decided to volunteer at the event as a way to meet people, get to know the theater company, and see some old friends.
The entire night felt like being in the hub of Asian American talent in Los Angeles. I saw a lot of friends and a lot of familiar faces, like George Takai.
Tamilyn Tomita (The Joy Luck Club) hosted.
And of course, Tim Dang, the artistic director of East West Players was there at the center of it all.
A preview performance of East West Players' current show, Krunk Fu Battle Battle, a hip-hop musical (book and lyrics written by friend and fellow NYU Alumni Beau Sia) rocked the house!
The silent auction allowed guests to donate to the theater company while walking away with movie baskets, food packages, spa packages, all abundant fun stuff!
It was a fabulous night of festive fun, focusing on a very worthy cause; theater, the arts and education, that small slice in the pie of our government's budget that can't afford to be made any smaller.
But this is the thing; just the night before, CNN announced that Osama Bin Laden had been shot by a team of US Navy Seals under special command from President Obama.
The news was popping up on people's smart phones all around me and in the moment, my reaction was surprisingly numb.
People have been celebrating. People have been tweeting.
People have also been quoting another great American leader on their facebook statuses,
"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
I can not imagine what it must have felt like to have lost someone on that day, or to have been one of the many brave firemen, policemen, or New Yorkers down on ground zero.
But what I can imagine, and do believe, is that one day, we will all celebrate the death of the destructive, fanatical, and terroristic mentality that drives anyone towards actions like Osama Bin Laden's; a mentality that may continue to breed itself amongst his followers, his son and within his pre-teen year old daughter that witnessed the shooting of her own father.
What is it they say about a woman scorned? That 'hell hath no fury like...?'
How does one fight such an age-old mentality bred from age-old hate? How do we as a world begin to appeal ourselves from such prejudiced irrational, reactive thinking?
A battle for the mind and attitude can only be won in the classroom, in the home, or in theaters in the storytelling of ourselves. It's not a coincidence that Shakespeare is used in penitentiaries to help the inmates express their suffering.
Which is why and how I found myself at the fundraiser that night for a theater company who's work I admire, believe in and choose to support.
It's not just the 'Asian' thing.
The United States spends 500 billion dollars more in military spending than anybody else in the world.
So what? I suppose there are necessary means, and again I'm not the President. I don't really know what that national defense expense spreadsheet looks like, but when is it ever a good idea to cut the budget on arts and education?
We'll end up having the most guns with the least educated people behind them...? How dangerous is that?!
Why is it that money is so disproportionately spent to fight a country's enemies as opposed to educating its own citizens towards a more evolved enlightened perspective on life?
And I mean it on both sides.
You want to fight terrorism? Truly fight terrorism? You want to bring in world peace?
Take your wallet and head to the nearest non-for-profit theater, school, cultural arts program and make a worthy donation towards somebody's mind.
Making a donation towards the creation of a great moment in theater, film, or television that may enlighten an audience towards a better future where terrorism and war are not options to conflict resolution, is the best bang for your buck.
That's the power of story-telling; when fictional characters become legendary role models that elevate the social consciousness of humanity.
So. What did I take away with me by the end of the night?
A bike? Yes. A bike.
More specifically a beach cruiser. Just in time for summer!
But I also made a donation to a theater company that in my mind is helping to change the world, one story at a time.
Entertain, educate, and enlighten. Then come join me for a bike ride on the beach! Woo-Hoo!
(photos courtesy of East West Players and punchstock.com)
Yours Truly -- Ann Hu