Arts Sunday, December 16, 2012
In the wake of Friday's tragedy -- less than an hour away from here -- there are a lot of unanswered questions. There will never be an adequate answer as to why the families of 20 children will be facing a new year without them. But there is one question to which there are a lot of answers -- urgent answers: "What can we do?"
We should of course be redoubling efforts to make it harder for people to get a gun, make them harder to load and use, and get those assault weapons and semiautomatics out of the public's hands altogether. These things are very, very important.
But we can do other things, too.
Let's fund and encourage and celebrate other ways of expressing our emotions, of coping with life. Everyone knows about our lack of competitiveness in math and science, and there's a nationwide conversation about fitness, but we don't do nearly enough to promote the other stuff: Art. Theater. Music. Dance. Cooking. Writing.
Let's give our children safe environments for self-expression and dispel the notion that art is the rarefied realm of a special, talented bunch. Let's press pause on the electronics for a minute and arm our kids with pencils and violins and tap shoes and pottery wheels and whisks and knitting needles.
These are not nice-to-have programs that can be cut when budgets get tight. They are necessary. They are crucial.
This season, I know what I'll be doing. I'll be watching to see if our local and national legislators translate the gun control outrage into actions. But I'll also be giving to arts programs in classrooms. I'll be volunteering at our local school so that someone else's holiday will be a little bit better. And I'll be drawing my heart out, in public.—You come too.
Let's look forward to a time when mass shooting is replaced by mass drawing. Mass dancing. Mass music-making. We can never have enough of that.