Art Has Failed to Humanize Our Country

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I recently read A Global Perspective, a fascinating interview in the LA Times with theater director, Peter Sellars. Sellars is an UCLA professor of world arts and culture where he teaches Art as Social Action and Art as Moral Action. ​

When asked, “You’ve said that ‘art over the past 25 years has failed to humanize the country.’ How do think it can accomplish that?”​ Read on…

Sellars offers a fascinating response regarding the humanities, justice, creativity, making powerful transformations in our lives and in this world.

Let’s put it positively, because God knows there’s enough negativity in the world. The humanities were systematically removed from the menu of most Americans. So the result is you get a less humane civilization, and a society where torture is routine and we’re surrounded by every kind of petty and large-scale injustice. And we’ve all learned not to comment on it, not to make an issue of it, just to keep our heads down and keep moving.  And that’s so not American and so looking out for anyone else. And it’s deliberately neutering your own personal justice sensors.​

And of course the humanities are all about activating your justice sensors and also about the empowerment of not just sitting there but actually realizing we’re all on Earth to be creative, to change things, to make powerful transformation in our lives and the world around us. And right now we are in such deep, deep, deep waters, and the only solution are going to be the creative ones. And creativity is the very thing that has been removed from the school system. And that is shocking.”

Questions: Do you agree with Sellars? Why or why not? How do the humanities (literature, art, theater, etc.) humanize us and develop our understanding of justice?

I’d love your thoughts and comments.

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  • Jake

    This is so true, not sure how to fix the problem. There is creativity in working on a car, welding, taking a photo. When all the school focus on are test scores and vomiting up information we have lost the love of learning. The ability to be different and creative is lost in a majority of what kids get to do in school.

    • Joey O’Connor

      One place to fix the lack of creativity in schools is to begin in our homes with our children. They are never lacking for imagination. One of our roles as parents is to keep encouraging their God-given creativity…they are made in His image! Thanks Jake…