“But who prays for Satan? Who, in eighteen centuries, has had
the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most? ”
This quote rattled around in my brain until I couldn’t help but post it.
An eight year old boy asked me, “What’s the point of all this, why are we here…how did all this get here?” (He waves his arms in a big circle indicating the world and everything in it)
First, I complimented him on his question. This is a big question for such a young person. This is the question that has been asked since the beginning of human history. Great thinkers attempt to answer. They continue to ponder the question, the question being more important than the illusive answer. That is what humans do. Why? Don’t know.
This child also believes in multiple universes….and Santa Claus.
I love ringing in a new year. It represents new hope and a chance to look at our lives with new vision. I think about what it means to be human today. We are changing and adapting to an environment of our own making. Will we survive it? Dunno. Looking at ourselves as a species is an extraordinary exercise:
We are the dominant and controlling species on the planet. How did we do it? We are not the biggest or toughest. I would not even say we were the smartest. Ants are better survivors. Ants know what is good for them.
We humans started out well. I think our ability to cooperate in order to survive helped our growth and sustainability. Trade began thousands of years ago. This strengthened and unified us. It made us safer, allowed us to build protective structures, eat healthier foods, clothe and protect our weak bodies from the elements. Still, some traded better than others, acquired more. Aggression, protection, dominance, greed describes some of our early behavior. As the population increased, trading necessarily was replaced with the monetary systems. Time passes. Now, it’s all about the money. Financial exchange has taken on a life of its own. Everyone needs it to survive in society. I especially do not like the lesson some learned from WWII: War creates jobs and prosperity. I would much rather live in a society where peace, learning and exploration were the goals.
However, this is what we are. We are human. We are aggressive creatures. We have taken some turns that are just plain ugly. We have built wonderful communication infrastructures that help connect us, present face time and exposure to most everyone – good or bad. It is exactly what I am doing right now. (And later, I will feel stupid for doing it. That’s ok, too.)
Hope for a great new year. The artwork, “Insight Panels” by Marsha Mogowski, was chosen for the title and content. They are extraordinary works to see live – great for contemplation. This is what is good about being human!
I was looking for inspiration and found it. With all due respect, Denis Dutton, philosophy professor, tells us in his book , “The Art Instinct”, that we favor certain images on calendars because they remind us of the serenly beautiful African savanna our prehistoric ancestors roamed. BUNK. I am surprised at this. He is a philosopher and (I fear) too much into the “beauty” thing discussed by Plato.
Leo Tolstoy got it right:
“Art is one of the means of intercourse between man and man”
Art is a communication of a thought. A work can be considered art when a connection is made with another human being and an emotion or thought is communicated. Some of it may be beautiful, but not all art is beautiful, nor is it meant to be.
Before our ancestors had written language they drew pictures in caves to communicate where or how to kill bison, or the death of kin, or the strength of horses, and that these pictures were understood by the viewers. Humans communicate with whatever means possible. We feed on it. It is what connects us. No man is an island, and all that.
Every letter in this blog is a work of art. When I put certain letters together, they produce an image in your brain. What do you see in your mind when you read this word “human”?
Does the image below communicate anything to you? Maybe the artist just likes Red. Do we think it is an ancient reflection of the blood spilt from a kill or the African sunset? Hmmm, maybe that is why some of us like the color red. I’ll buy that. The instinct, however, is to tell a story – to communicate. Share, share share. It is what we are all about.
So, Aristotle claimed the following:
The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.
We are at this place. Actually, we may have been, forever. When a child renders an image of something, it is nothing but significant.
At the height of WWII, Winston Churchill was asked if he wanted to cut costs by scrapping the arts program.
“My God … my God … NO. What have we been fighting for?”
The human spirit lives through our art and the humanities.
The District of Columbia is bustling in preparation for a visit of millions of citizens. I will be there hoping to catch a few interesting images of humanity. If all goes well, they will be posted as soon as I get back. Stay toastie –