Infiltrating the system with the arts!
“The arts have been a mainstay in societies throughout the world and throughout history. They are not only used for the esthetic value but for a means of communication. If you look at everything from rap and folk music to classical and pop the artist tells a story about them and their community. The concerns are expressed just as if they were written or given in a speech.” - “Stop Politically Driven Education”, Cap Lee.
John Lennon penned “Give Peace a Chance”, which became an anthem for the peace movement in the seventies. “We shall Overcome” was the rallying cry of the freedom movement of the sixties. “Oh Freedom” was a statement made by the Igbo tribe from Southern Nigeria as they refused to enter the new world as slaves, instead they walked into the water to “take them home” to a better place. The message there was “Before I’d be a slave I’ll be buried in my grave and go home to my Lord and be free.” That message evolved from the Igbo Landing in 1803 and resonated for more than two centuries to tell the story of their quest for freedom.
A strong message resounds in many forms of the arts. Comedians like George Carlin and Stephen Colbert make statements through their comedy to get all politicians to sit up and listen. Paul Robison spread his message through the arts. He stated, “As an artist I come to sing, but as a citizen, I will always speak for peace, and no one can silence me in this.” Martha Graham was quoted as saying “Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body”. A message is sent every time a dancer sets foot on a stage. The artwork “The Scream” may express how many of us feel today. The list goes on and on. To the day he died, Einstein insisted that the reason for his success was that he played the violin. According to G. J. Withrow, his lifetime friend, Einstein worked on his theories while improvising on the violin. It helped him think.
Plays were shut down in many countries when they were provocative in nature in the eyes of the dictators, yet they kept on persisting. “The Suicide” in 1928 was written by Nikolai Erdman. It talked about Russians taking back their lives from Communism. It took Stalin one performance to understand what it advocated, and he banned it. It continued playing on under the name “Dying for It” and could not be silenced. Recently the Broadway play “Hamilton” became a history lesson as well as a message for the future.
Artist of all kinds possess political power. Rock musicians for example, possess a power that state authorities cannot ignore, a power that cannot be arbitrarily repressed. Artists can be stopped but their music and their plays, their art and especially their recorded presentations cannot. Pete Seeger was blacklisted from performing, especially on television because his song “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” talked about the Vietnam war. Tom and Dick Smothers had him on their television show anyway and later quit the show due to restrictions demanded of them by the network. But Seeger’s music carried on to this day. Paul Robison was blacklisted everywhere in the US, so he went to foreign countries where he was treated like a king, so the U.S. government took away his passport. They may have stopped him for a time, but his music and thoughts continue to this day.
Throughout history, the arts have been a mainstay in the process of communication. The history of the world can easily be found in the songs, the writings, the paintings, in dance and the list goes on. From paintings on a cave wall to a play, to an opera, to the songs of Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, and the New Freedom Singers, and the comedy of George Carlin, stories have been told. Now it is time for the students to have that experience. What if students wrote their own plays with a strong message and performed them. Or how about writing and performing their own songs and artwork, and dance, and comedy and on and on. What a skill to be developed. They research, read, write, and most of all, think! What a new concept for the education curriculum. How about bringing in artists from all areas to educate through the arts? The possibilities are endless, and the message is strong.
The arts can say what the politicians cannot silence!
For more great ideas go to www.wholechildreform.com and check out my new book.