“Never before in history has our culture been so bereft of courageous institutional leaders of vision, intelligence and integrity. We simply do not have the formidable figures the public identifies with telling the truth anymore. There are nearly no national artistic or business or political leaders nowadays who articulate in bold and defiant terms the moral imperative to address the rapidly broadening gap separating the weak and poor from the wealthy and powerful, the escalating xenophobia and hysterical fear mongering, the thinly disguised racism behind our public discourse, the class inequality, the maldistribution of educational opportunities, the babbling irrational talking heads on television, the erosion of women’s rights, the lingering stench of homophobia, the corporatization of democracy, and the national economic decline we are enlarging by concealing our problems underneath layers of debt and financial chicanery and shallow thinking.
The predominant market way of life with its addictive seductions and pacifying pastimes seems to have sapped our collective energy for meaningful analysis and logical decision-making. Art can change that if we have the courage to let it play a more active role.
It’s so much easier though to hold difficult questions at bay — to talk about art and music only in vague pseudo-academic terms, to pontificate about protecting the treasures of the past when we should be working instead to connect our most profound ideas, ambitions and dreams to our future. One cannot speak publicly about the meaning of great art or great music or great ideas without raising terrifying questions about who we are and why we have become this way and what the next chapter of our life should be. Fortunately though, these are the very questions that art is most well equipped to answer for us.
Life should not be only about seeking success; art and music reveal that to us. And culture should not be about parading around fund raising galas pretending to understand art one secretly finds meaningless just to appear intellectual or accomplished. One of the worst things the baby boomer generation did was teach our young people they should become “successful.” What a colossal mistake. What an incentive for and incitement to fakery. Indeed, society does not need more success. It needs greatness.
Centuries from now may it be said we were bold and visionary in our efforts to live courageously, that we let art and music lead rather than follow in the quest to create dialogue over misunderstanding, to fight for freedom against all forms of barbarism and oppression. That we made our art real and our lives better for it. Art has the power to ignite a renaissance in America during this new and unpredictable century upon which we are still embarking. Let’s let it do its work now”
This guy is speaking my language.