“The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference.” — Elie Wiesel
There is a fear taking root in the American soul that our experimental republic may be too far gone, too deep into the abyss to ever again see the light of community.
The fear is fed by those cynics who profit from it. Political incumbents use fear to retain power; arms dealers use fear as a marketing tool; religious leaders use fear to drive people closer to their gods and to boost offerings; drug companies use the ultimate fear — the fear of death — to sell their remedies meant to hold death at bay.
If our artists ever give up, however, is when I fear that the American experiment will end.
In our tumult, creativity is flourishing. Artists throughout the land are using their talents to inspire and to comfort, to arouse and to encourage. Undaunted by the harsh dichotomies that exist and deepen between sides, our artists present us with visionary imagery every day, scenes that call upon us to see our own truths and to do better.
This is the role that artists always play. It is often unheralded, unappreciated, even unacknowledged, but it is essential for the American experiment to succeed. In our schools, we often rush to cut our art programs first, as if our artists are merely frivolous folk who exist on the fringes of our society. In fact, they are as courageous and vital as any soldier who ever stood upon a battlefield.
If our artists should ever grow indifferent, if they should ever set aside their paint and their ink and their clay, if they should ever abandon the act of creation, that is the moment when a cold wind will sweep across this land, and we will indeed be too far gone.