Tonight is the state of the union speech. We’re all going to line up on each side of the issues and cheer or throw things at the TV. We’ll complain that the government is too big, taxes are too high, or that we need more controls on businesses, and corporations rule the world, blah, blah, blah.
Oh yes, it’s important, but hasn’t it always been important. 500 years ago the king sent his tax collectors out and grabbed your wheat or your best calf. He needed to attack France or Spain or wherever, and you had to pay. Now really, is it all that different?
So why does the President need art? Because it would help him (and us) put it all in perspective. We’re so focused on the trees, we don’t see the forest. And the forest is our cultural health, our humanity. We can buy a house for everyone, fill it full of food, computer games, high speed Internet, and even provide free trips to the doctor. But it won’t make you a better person, nor I suspect, make you happy.
The problem is the solution. What I mean is, stop trying so hard to take care of the surface needs of our people, and look deeper. We need to encourage our citizens to take up cultural activities such as art, music, and literature. I’m not even suggesting we have the government sponsor it, I’m just saying we should talk about how important it is. How many people do you think get so worked up after a visit to the museum that they go out and commit mass murder? Don’t think people care about art? Think again. Art is second only to porn for interest on the Internet.
Our President should remind us of our own worth, that our souls need care too. Tell us about how we can be more human by exploring our human natures, our desire to be better than we woke up this morning. We all have this yearning to be something more. That’s what art is, except in physical form. We’re not going to solve our financial problems in a single speech in a single evening. But, an inspirational speech about our cultural worth just might give us a lift to be better people the next morning.
So instead of talking about the same old mundane garbage, Mr. Obama, give us a pep talk about our humanity. It couldn’t hurt.
Jay Magidson, Basalt, CO