Over the last few weeks, the world has been especially ravaged by earthquakes, landslides, floods, fires, hurricanes, war and political unrest. It can be difficult to watch the devastation faced by millions without knowing quite how to help. I can pray, provide monetary support, and help students with their fundraising efforts, but really, in many ways, I feel helpless.
Yet it is important to find ways to remain hopeful in today’s world climate and to help our students do the same. I take comfort in art.
Artists can take difficult situations and create beauty, provoke thought, construct meaning, make us laugh, and challenge our norms.
Don McLean wrote American Pie about the 1959 plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens. New Yorkers created a Tribute in Light: twin beams of light reaching up to 4 miles in the sky as a commemorative art installation to 9/11. Margriet Ruurs and Nizar Ali Badr collaborated to create a stunning picture book, Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey, about a Syrian family. And, I’ve especially appreciated (and found comfort in) SNL over the last seven or eight months.
Each of these examples has the power to uplift and provide hope. Providing our students with opportunity to both experience and create art is life-giving. George Bernard Shaw was right: “Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.”