National Arts and Humanities Month

 

Human Rights

Image by h de c via Flickr

 

Have you ever noticed that we have a month or a day dedicated to celebrating things that should just be part of every day life? For example: National Arts and Humanities Month, National Book Month, Universal Human Rights Month, African-American History Month, Women’s History Month etc. Of course, there are some pretty strange things that are honored with months as well (Prune Breakfast Month, National Macaroon Day???) For a list of these strange celebrations, check here http://www.quamada.com/months.html.

Now, I’m not complaining that October is National Arts and Humanities Month. I think it is wonderful that the government is encouraging people to celebrate arts and humanities. I obviously value them in my life. Nor am I complaining that there are months dedicated to African-american history, or Breast Cancer, or Women’s History or any of those things. What I am concerned about is the fact that we need to have months like this declared. Shouldn’t we be concerned about Universal Human Rights and Breast Cancer on a regular basis. Isn’t an  understanding of history of all sorts valuable to our understanding of modern times?

October is National arts and Humanities Month. Humanities relates to human culture, and is the study of philosophy, arts, literature, etc. as opposed to the sciences. So, by nature, don’t we all have something to do with humanities every day? I know everyone does not love literature or arts, but just thinking about life in any way is part of humanities. Then we come to the arts. Aren’t the arts just a natural part of human life? Art is not something separated from who we are. Watch young children for proof of that. One of the first ways they communicate is through art–whether it’s the mess they make with food or finger paints; by moving furniture or putting toys where they belong. They rearrange their world to express themselves, which to me is a sample of art. Then, when they get older, they express themselves through creative play and role-playing. Even the child who is going to grow up to be a scientist, mechanic, athlete, or the next math genius expresses those future roles in games and playing. Art is a part of who we are.

Why, then, do we need to set aside a special month to celebrate this thing that is fundamental to human existence and communication? It seems like something has shifted us away from valuing things that got us where we are today. So I declare this year, no century, as National Arts and Humanities Century!  As far as I am concerned, that incorporates a celebration of all that it means to be human. That includes history, health, literature, human rights, women and everything else. Yes, it even includes prune breakfasts.

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