Cultural renewal and reinvention is possible...
by focusing on Humanities and the Arts.
Five hundred years ago the Renaissance brought an explosion of art, science, geographical discovery, and religious ideas into the world. I would love to experience a new renaissance (rebirth) of wisdom, creativity, community, and faith in this coming decade.
The first Renaissance was a ‘rebirth’ of human ability and creativity. At its peak, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael produced their artworks, Columbus made his discoveries, Copernicus set off the Scientific Revolution, and Luther started the Reformation.
All of this was borne out of the disruption of The Black Plague. The Renaissance wasn’t a joyous time of sunshine, rainbows, and creative play. The creative journeys into science, art, and a new sense of spirituality came out of darkness, struggle, and a sense of human and societal weaknesses.
According to a 2020 prediction made in Forbes Magazine, “The second renaissance will replace technological dogmas such as connectivity, efficiency, speed, optimization and productivity with human relevance, purpose, engagement, relationships, and self-realization.”
In other words, the second renaissance will emphasize the value of being human — fallible, imperfect, introspective, and self-aware. All the things contrary to a technological algorithmic existence. Human traits, such as the ability to adapt, empathize, hope, and connect (in real life, in non-digital terms).
Having withdrawn from my addiction to social media and disposed of mainstream media, I’m all about the separation of online and real life. If I’m in a room full of people looking at their devices, I see no need to be there. And while Public and Higher Education continue to focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Math) and deplete and/or delete courses and departments relating to the Humanities (writing, art, music, communication, literature, languages, etc.), the real need is to produce creative, emotionally-mature, outside the box thinkers who have all the things that computers do not: wants, needs, dreams, depth, character, initiative.
In 2021, Peter Sims noted, “When you visit the places in America where some of the most significant cultural renewal and reinvention has taken place over the past two decades, you will discover a common theme everywhere: artists arrived first.”
Not jobs. Not roads. Not degrees or politicians nor any economic development plans. Artists.
Artists, simply by their creative nature (which allows for experimentation, failure, and non-analytical idea exploration, development, and expression) connect. They connect to each other, they connect a community. With their dreams, they inspire. With their attitudes of possibility, they provide hope. With their outside-the-box thinking, they find solutions. And with their initiatives, they become infectious.
I hope for a new renaissance. I look for signs of it and see some here and there, and shake my head at leadership who continue to stick their heads in the STEM sand. I grimace over cuts to library, arts, and music funding, while I still celebrate the regional talents displayed at the arts & craft shows I attend.
A dear friend once told me, “I have faith in the Universe. I have faith in us.”
I’ve never had much faith in American leaders. My involvement, education, and experience relating to local, state, and national leadership have degraded that faith even further, and facing an election year, has turned nearly rancid. It’s hard to have faith in the future.
But studies and the post-pandemic condition show we are primed for a new renaissance, a rebirth in the value of being human. The entire concept of a renaissance is based on faith in humanity — not in political leadership, educational formulas, or even the human brain.
A new renaissance will come from the soul - and souls speak, console, and synergize through the arts.
I urge you, in the upcoming year, to “rage against the machines.” Political machines, educational machines, technological machines. Resist becoming an American algorithm in a society of leaders still grasping at the power consumerism has provided them. Stop your incessant scrolling and spend some time with your soul.
Make art. Be art. Support the arts.
Help make the new renaissance happen.