Wednesday, September 24, 2008

An Artful Question

This blog may not agree with some of you out there. I'm usually the kind of person who likes warm fuzzy blogs, but today this one isn't going to be like that.
So read on at your own peril.
Both The United States and Canada are facing national elections, but here in Canada, one of our issues is arts funding.
I live near an excellent university and because of that, I have ample opportunity to enjoy their arts' programs. I love them.
In some ways, I, too, am an artist, a writer who is blessed enough to get paid for her work.
But here in Canada, we have people saying more funding must go into our arts and culture program.
Stop a moment. We also have gun violence in Toronto, an Arctic in crisis, and the working poor whose children are going hungry. We have natives who struggle to survive, and a country with a wildly growing dependence on fossil fuels.
Canada also has a global conscience, seeing the poor of other countries, the oppressed and those suffering under terrorist regimes. Canada has a responsibility to support those countries who want to end the global crises.
How can I sit in a comfortable seat in an auditorium enjoying the arts when this is happening? How can I justify saying that my government should support these programs when the burden of helping our own Canadians and the poor around the world is so great?
Some people may say that this is our culture, to have quality music, fine visual arts, and incredible talent.
No. When our poor and our native populations and environment are in crisis, this becomes our culture.
Our culture is our poor, and oppressed, and how we deal with them.
How we deal with the less fortunate is the true measure of ourselves. How are we dealing with them? It's not just a nationally elected body's responsibility, but an individual responsibility, too. How am I helping the poor, the environment, our supply of fresh drinking water?
How are you? What are you, personally, doing to change the culture that has been thrust upon us in the world's eyes?
Let us be able to watch that symphonic band's newest recital with a clear conscience.

3 comments:

Janet Tronstad said...

Barbara -- Your blog reminds me of something I read about Mother Theresa. Surrounded as she was by the immense needs of the dying people she ministered to, she always thought there needed to be something beautiful around for them.

Pamela J said...

You ask: "How we deal with the less fortunate... How are we dealing with them?" We as a church assembly are reaching out to the poor by filling a need if we see and can help. We share our washer/dryers, showers, water and food. We also help with heating if someone finds themselves short before spring springs if we can. We have a small trailer house someone can stay in until they get on their feet. (this means, get a job and get themselves going until they can get on their own)
You say, "It's not just a nationally elected body's responsibility, but an individual responsibility, too." I agree the nation shouldn't just do this by handing out but to get them where they can go do for themselves. Feed someone a meal and you have taken care of them for a day. Teach them how to fish and they can feed themselves the rest of their lives.
You ask, "What are you, personally, doing to change the culture that has been thrust upon us in the world's eyes?" We don't just do hand outs but we do help people to learn to do for themselves if we can. A hand out teaches them to hold their hand out if that is all they ever get.

Barbara Phinney said...

Pamela,
What a great thing your church is doing, and you personally. I couldn't agree more about just feeding them. That's why that microcredit stuff is so wonderful. Having been on mission trips, I know that we have to help people help themselves.
We only have a benevolent fund at our church that helps in heating costs, when needed.
I heard later that the arts community in Canada creates 100,000 jobs, but I wonder how many are full time, self supporting, help the poor kinds of jobs.
I like the idea that there is this trailer house available for those in a pinch. That's a terrific idea. Seeing a need and ministering to that need. Wow.
We need more people like your congregation. Bless you.