“We don’t read and write poetry because we think it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering; these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love; these are what we stay alive for.”
– John Keating, Dead Poets Society
Continuing my Thanksgiving thoughts, I am grateful to have so much to “stay alive for.” 🙂
To my way of thinking, one can often judge the health of any given culture by the quantity and quality of the art it produces. I actually learned that one from my best friend, and it has held true across every circumstance I have observed, either witnessed or learned from text books.
The greatest civilizations have always been those that harnessed the fires of passion to create beautiful things. Mind you, they needed discipline to accomplish this, applying physical effort and mental fortitude to the monumental tasks they undertook. The head and the heart were always meant to be partners, not adversaries. When this has been achieved, the results have nurtured society, preserving the flame to be passed on to all who might be touched by it. Thus, a light is added to the world.
That light lifts the common man from ignorance and indolence. Knowledge is gathered and pursued, grand visions are achieved, technology advances in every aspect, the world is changed… because mankind sees a light and reaches for it. We see something that makes us feel more alive, more worthwhile, more human.
It’s subtle, often overlooked, even by people who profess to know a great deal about the subject, but it’s there nonetheless. It speaks to us in ways we may never fully understand, but we hear it, extolling each of the great human virtues.
The power of beautiful things is the power to raise humanity out of darkness, the power of hope.
What greater reason can there be to keep living, if not to share in such light with the people we love, our fellow man?