It’s impossible to know if surviving in today’s world is more difficult than in decades and centuries past. The determination is dependent on how you define ‘survival.’ One thing is certain: Globalization has impacted the world at every level and has changed how we survive, how we interact, and how we respond. We can choose to respond with positivity and restorative narrative.
The world has no shortage of disaster and crisis. The news articulates important stories that our global society needs to know. We need to maintain awareness of how actions cause reactions, who needs help, and who is helping. The world may be full of suffering, but we know it’s also full of people who want to alleviate suffering.
Clowns Without Borders chooses hope, objective reality, and shared community-building to frame our work and our outlook. We choose restorative narratives. We didn’t coin the term—ivoh did—but it describes our work in its global context. Clowns Without Borders seeks restorative narrative by sharing resilience through laughter. Clowns Without Borders founder Tortell Poltrona says that we must do this work until CWB no longer needs to exist.
It starts with the invitation for us to come somewhere. We research to understand the needs of the NGO’s and populations being served. We find and bring in the local artists, or theater companies, or schools, or local grassroots groups and help everyone work together, with mentorship, compassion, caring, and respect for the moments when the clowns step back and become witnesses, audience members learning from those with whom we seek to catalyze a positive impact.
Laughter is healing. Laughter helps us move past difficult times. It connects us. Sometimes we need a little spark to get us started but when we do, the effects are immediate and often serendipitous. Take for example Nora, an aid worker helping bring refugees safely ashore in Lesvos, Greece. She witnessed Clowns Without Borders perform a series of acts as refugees waited to board UNHCR buses bound for Moria Camp. She told me afterwards that seeing joy light up the faces of the refugees was the first time she cried tears of happiness instead of sorrow since arriving on Lesvos.
Our shows and interactions have huge impact. It is powerful to be invited to a community where we are allowed to perform and play, though we may only be there for a couple hours, or even minutes at a time. Our effort to share joy creates space for more joy. It’s restorative. We hope the positive narrative stays with those we meet long after we’ve gone, and spreads far and wide.