It is troubling times these days. People have been facing devastating disasters including floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, and drought. Man fighting against man is happening throughout the world in Afghanistan, Somali, Iraq, Pakistan, Mexico, Sudan, Sudan and Syria. People are demanding a change in India, Philippines, Laos, Turkey, Nigeria, Thailand, Egypt, Libya, Iran, Burma and Sudan to name just a few. The whole world is balancing a financial crisis, both in the industrial and developing countries.
In the United States people struggle for the basic necessities of life such as healthcare and education. Our educational system is less than desired and is under the microscope of everyone’s observing eyes. It has been deemed that a change is required and it is necessary for our children to be leaders of tomorrow. Education is being challenged more today than ever because we expect more from the individual to be able to compete in this world’s economy. Schools are also struggling with other challenges. Children with Autism and ADHD is an epidemic. Children needing special educational resources are increasing every day. Meanwhile budgets are beyond tight, and the educators are struggling to meet the demands of the people in this country.
As a result of these economic challenges, schools are trying to work more efficient while at the same time continue improving the results of our educational system. To meet this challenge some programs have been eliminated including band, orchestra, choir, and art. It is a grave error in eliminating these programs. The arts are just as important, if not equally important, as reading, math and science.
There have been many eras with economical strife, and many of them more serious than what we face today. In 1929 the United States was in a depression which affected the whole world and lasted until the late 1930s. With the Great Depression came immense human suffering. People were unemployed, homeless, starving and challenged by illnesses. But even with this despair, out of the Great Depression we have the novels of John Steinbeck and William Faulkner, the poetry of Langston Hughes, and the plays of Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. It was also the time for Babe Ruth, Louis Armstrong and Amelia Earhart.
Jonathon Swift was prevalent during the Irish Potato Famine in 1740 where there was mass starvation and disease. From 1348 to 1350 the Plague killed approximately fifty percent of Europe’s population and reached beyond its borders. There has been famine throughout human history including the Egyptian famine in mid-22nd century BC resulting in several decades of drought, the Angola famine in the 16th century that lasted 70 years, and Ethiopia’s Great famine lasting from 1888 to 1892 resulting in the death of one-third of its population. World economics have been affected by the fall of Rome, the fall of Chinese dynasties, the fall of Mayans, Aztecs, Incas and the Islamic Golden Age.
Yet still, out of these years of tragedy we have the philosophy of Cicero, Aristotle and Plato; the dramatic works of Ovid, Homer, John Milton, and William Shakespeare; the teaching of Moses, Confucius, Martin Luther, Jesus Christ and Muhammad; the music of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky; the paintings of Da Vinci, Renoir and Van Gogh; and the sculptures of Donatello, Michelangelo and Bernini. All ages have had their turmoil, whether it be war, famine, or environmental disasters. Yet in all eras we have our masters of art, music, philosophy, and spirituality. Tragedy does not necessarily mean the end of the arts. With the arts come dreams, creativity, aspirations, and innovation.
Without the arts the world would be a different place. Without these dreams and creativity we would not have paper, gun powder, the number zero, printing, morphine, electricity, telephone, the airplane, braille, the automobile, penicillin, nuclear power, space flight, insulin, computers, genetics, and stem cell research. Without the arts where will we be tomorrow? The arts are a part of each and everyone one of us. They are our conciliators, our call to arms of action, our joy, our celebration, our lamentation, and our tomorrow. Today’s dreams and stories become tomorrows reality.
It is very sad that our educational system is abandoning the arts. In the meantime this abandonment may resolve the budget issues, but in the long-term what invention won’t be invented, what musical composition will not be written, what poem will not be wrote, what scientist won’t invent, and what leaders won’t lead.
Thankfully for us, the existence of the arts is not dependent on our educational system. History has shown us that the arts will survive and will not be dispelled by mere budget cuts. The arts can be taken out of the school systems, but it can not be taken out of human kind. Arts in the school systems have little effect on the child who is amazed at the colors in bubbles, or building forts out of the couch cushions, or dancing and singing to the latest tune, or doodling on a notebook, or pretending to be a scientist exploring concoctions and sticking them in the freezer. The arts in the schools system would be nice, perhaps even ideal, but not necessary. Just as in the past, the arts will always survive. They must. They will. They are a part of us. They are the basis of our tomorrow.