I think their importance to people’s lives is often underestimated. They have the power to inspire, to give people the opportunity to escape or appreciate something beautiful. For people such as myself who aren’t blessed with an overabundance of money, the arts provide an opportunity to see things and places that we may not otherwise see. To bear witness to events that have long since passed from living memory, to see great and wondrous things that have long since crumbled to dust.
They allow us to order our thoughts and document our own lives, as well as the lives of others. They allow us to see into the minds of great figures from history, to see how they viewed themselves compared to how their contemporaries viewed them. They allow us to delve into the collective psyche of nations, to see how they developed and to follow their eventual decline. They allow us to see the better side of humanity, whether it be music, literature, or any of the other methods of human expression, the importance of the arts cannot be overstated.
Having said all of that, it also allows us to see the ugly side of humanity. For as long as the arts have existed, they have been used to inspire people to some of the most heinous acts imaginable. People have used them to espouse hateful political ideologies, leading to some of the worst atrocities in human history. They have been used to craft policies leading to the oppression and suffering of entire groups of people, for no greater reason than the colour of their skin, their religious and/or political beliefs, their gender or any number of arbitrary reasons of little, to no relevance in judging the worth of a person.
We can be unbelievable shits to each other sometimes, when inspired by a picture, a film, or a piece of music we can react in some of the worst ways imaginable to one another. But we can also be beautiful, I have been privileged in my life to have witnessed some of the most touching acts of kindness from people in situations little better than the person they are helping.
People have tremendous capacity. Whatever we choose to create and whatever effect it has, I’d rather have a world of boundless creative possibilities than the alternative.
My mind has been racing with thoughts such as these lately, so expect more such musings. In the meantime, stay classy world!