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In Defense of The Arts

Image via Connecticut College

I’m a history geek. I love history, I love learning about it, I read history textbooks for fun as a kid, and I occasionally go on history rants when I’m with my friends. A little while ago, I learned that at my university, history was the least popular major. And to be fair, I haven’t really heard people say that they were history majors, or at least, not that I can remember. One of my friends was going into engineering, another one is pursuing chemistry, and another one is currently going into biology. Not that there is anything wrong with pursuing those majors; I encourage people to go after whatever they think will bring them happiness and contentment.

And I’m not saying there is anything wrong with science either. I understand that a lot of the advancements we have today are scientific advancements, such as medicine, operations and surgery, running water, television, the Internet, etc. I respect and appreciate science but at the same time, I feel that it is just a teensy  bit overrated.

Yes, there have been numerous contributions, and yes, science is a wonderful thing, but at the same time, there have been not-so-good results that have a lot to do with science and working with science. Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Chemical warfare. Tear gas. Biological weapons. And these are just a few. Just to be clear, I’m not bashing science, but I would like to point out that these things are, well, overlooked when it comes to discussions concerning (praising) science.

And what of the arts? What of history, literature, theater, designing, and fashion? While we sit down to watch movies, go admire art in museums, and fervently talk about out favorite author’s latest books, we don’t exactly encourage people to go into these subjects, or even talk about the subject itself. We comment on the film, but we don’t talk about how far cinema has come since the late 19th to early 20th century. We look at the art, but are we really contemplating its meaning and its relation to politics and history or are we just looking at a pretty picture? We gush over what happens in the book and talk about spoilers but do we actually take a moment to consider the impact of the literature itself? And last but not least, do we encourage that film major? That art major? That English or creative writing major?

I’m a writer myself (I hope that’s obvious, since I’m writing right now). And I can tell you that there is a lot more to writing than many would think. When I write a story, I am not just writing that story, I am in the story. I am envisioning it, picturing it in my mind. I am trying to convey a message through that story, whether it’s a lesson for those growing up, or commentary on current political climate. I am looking to write quotes that speak a thousand words, in the present of less than ten. I’m a writer because I’m intrigued by the power of words, more an art than it is a science. After all, words have the power to move, to touch, the power to evoke emotion, the power to move ahead. The power to contribute to progress, the power to advance a society. Things you usually hear about science rather than writing, at least from my experience.

Even when we look at history (oh look, another art!), we can really see the impact that the arts have had throughout the years. Think of the huge role that writing, speeches, documents, books, productions, and films have had. Novels that we have read and cherished have taught us important lessons and have stayed in our heads from our childhood into our adulthood. Posters are decorated and thoughtfully written to provoke insights in the minds of those who see it at protests. Various art forms have been utilized by talented individuals throughout the years to comment on war, genocide, and the human condition. And of course, there are so many examples of how the arts have been important and vital.

And that brings me back to my main point. While science is important and should be discussed and pursued, at the same time, we cannot forget that the arts is every bit as important. The arts have traveled a great deal when it comes to everyday life, when it comes to politics and government, when it comes to social issues, when it comes to civil and human rights, when it comes to character. And those are statements I would like to hear spoken more often.

 

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