More importantly than the skills which are applied in our business worlds are the values gained through an exposure to the arts. Values can be practiced where it really counts for something - in our communities and family relations. Tolerance of racial and ethnic traditions is required to move our communities forward in cultural and socio-economic settings. Peace can only be achieved through communication, and the arts are a universal form of communication. Isadora Duncan has stated: "If I could tell you what I mean, there would be no point in dancing". The language of the arts can bridge any cultural schism. Marianne Williamson reminds us in A Return to Love that to communicate is to love and to attack is to separate (160).
Otto Dix, a visual artist who lived through both World Wars, refers to the creative energy as a form of "exorcise"; and Frida Kahlo, another visual artist who lived with physical torments from an accident, stated that painting "purged her memory" and helped her deal with chronic pain and physical anguish. Eco-psychologists consider art to be an integral form of therapy, one in which our communion with nature may be fully expressed and that our psyches require this communion with nature to effect emotional and spiritual balance for atonement (being at one with nature) in our lives.
Through open mindedness and an ability to express oneself, a generation schooled in the arts will be capable of reaching the peace and cultural acceptance unknown on our planet since "civilization" began. Only through seeking creative solutions to our differences can we avoid the apparently automatic urge to "bear arms" (emphasis mine). When an individual is unable to express their confusion and disillusionment with their world in a non-violent manner, we view their expression through violence. As is apparently the case in the recent phenomenon of adolescent males using firepower to demand recognition and retribution in our schools. This irrepressible need for attention was obviously not fulfilled in their younger days, they were not taught or given examples of acceptable expression, therefore they need to act out against their supposed or imagined oppressors. World wars have always begun because of intolerance of others; we are currently suffering the consequences of our own condoning attitude towards intolerance. One cannot hide these attitudes from family and communities. Intolerance needs to be recognized for what it is - a sickness of the heart and soul and treated as such. When words are not heeded, actions will follow.
Once an individual has learned for themselves "non-judgment and patience" (Carbonetti 102) through arts, these same values can be enacted in their families and communities and, eventually, universally. By learning to express oneself through art so that one might live authentically; and by expressing one's own realizations and manifesting (i.e., making evident or plainly show something) those beliefs, an individual will be capable of sharing with the world the greatest gift. A human who understands and has experienced their own beliefs can authentically express himself or herself.
Ackerman refers to art as a form of "deep play", wherein an individual may reach balance of mind and spirit. Having "peace with one's self and the world" is a necessary element of living the human experience in a fulfilling manner. To choose an outlet for one's emotions, whether it be through writing, drama, visual arts, dance or any other form of expression is to lose yourself in the merging of the creative moment. By doing so an alternate reality is reached, troubles may be left behind, and an individual becomes the conqueror, creator, invincible; literally - "an ideal version of oneself".
Therefore, children must be given the means with which to express themselves. Children must view peaceful and meaningful examples of communication. Our perceptions are comprised of more than the written word; therefore, our training should include other forms of communication. We express our emotions through body language, visual aids, cadence, and eye contact, and many more forms. However, rarely do you ever see a curriculum that lists "non-verbal communication" other than sign language for the deaf. A class need not be so literal, but the attitude needs to be in the learning institution that art is vital to the overall emotional and intellectual development of a child and has an inherent worth in and of itself (emphasis mine). Art is an essential part of being human and in expressing ourselves as individuals within a larger society. Only through expression can similarities be identified and those similarities can be the building blocks of a new understanding between cultures. Art historians have been the major contributors of theological study in ancient cultural beliefs, daily regimes, and historical significance. It is through their arts that we can visualize ancient Rome, Pompeii, and Egypt. Understanding of diverse cultures may be reinterpreted into any form of dance, theater, philosophy, poetry, . . . the list is endless. Through shared expression a new relationship is born between the cultures and the grand collaboration of peace can begin.
. . . to be continued in Part III along with Works Cited references.
copyright 1999 - Sher Fick, all rights reserved