As you find this new blog post, I send you my warmest best wishes and hope that you and your family are safe and unaffected by the happenings of the world.
There are days when I despair for the future. What are our lives going to be like? I don’t want to be dramatic and act like the world is going to end, but I do not want to brush things off in such a callus way. I question how responsible it would be to have children in a world that seems so broken. What will their lives be like? The events that have been unfolding across the world these past days have been nothing short of abysmal. People have needlessly died.
This morning while sitting on the other side of the world in California having my morning cup of tea, I saw a trending tweet that included an excerpt from the French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin, who recently decided to reopen the culture ministry’s buildings “… in this moment of tragedy for France, culture is, more that ever, the symbolic place to discover ourselves and others, to gather together, and exchange ideas.”
Sometimes I wonder, in this future of seemingly impossible scientific inventions and terror leading to death, what kind of place can history and art ever hold? I must now burden my you with another quote. My partner always reminds me of an excerpt from my favorite United States president John Adams, from a letter he writes to his wife while he is in France, “I must study Politics and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematics and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematics and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Music, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelain.” As citizens of the world, I would like to believe that we have reached the point where we can study and appreciate art. We no longer have to kill each other, or seek out ways to harm one another. Our forefathers regardless of where we come from almost all envisioned a future of peace for us, and themselves made sacrifices to try and ensure this.
I agree with the Culture Minister of France, that culture is a crucial element of any country, be that element literal or symbolic. I would like to share a few cultural elements that I appreciate from some of the countries that have been negatively affected by the events of late.
The archaeology of Egypt has inspired people around the world for centuries. We marvel at their great and beautiful creations, most famous of which is the Giza Plateau pictured here on the left. They have a rich history that stretches back farther than many countries can imagine, and share with us today their awe inspiring monuments that have stood the test of time… and the tests of war.
Although the history of art in Russia has had its ups and downs, one cannot deny the magnificent works that have come from Russia. One of my favorite Russian painters is Ivan Aivazovsky, a Romantic painter for the Russian Navy in the 1800s. I am always fond of seascapes, and his are some of the most beautiful.
The people of France have mastered all forms of art, some of my favorites have been their works of literature. One of my favorite stories is The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870). It is a hefty book, but it is such a wonderful tale that is so captivating. Dumas also wrote The Three Musketeers, which is now a household expression. I am also fond of Jules Verne and his science fiction books Journey to the Center of the Earth and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. I like to picture Captain Nemo roaming the seas that Aivazovsky paints in the Nautilus. Such wonderful stories.
Nature itself to me is a form of art, and its preservation is an art form. Nature has provided the inspiration for countless numbers of artists, and many have found the beauty of the Lebanon Cedar to be especially striking. Pictured on the country’s flag, the Cedars of Lebanon, or Cedars of God have been prized for their beauty. So much, that it is today a protected tree due to the massive deforestation in its environment. Over the centuries, cedar wood was exploited by the Phoenicians, the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Romans, the Israelites and the Turks. The Cedars of God are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
So let us pray for those who have been lost, and for those who are in mourning. Let us hope that the things that have torn us apart can be overcome by the beautiful things and elements of our cultures that make us special and unique. I want to live in a future where we can celebrate our differences. Yes, this is probably a pipe dream, and pie in the sky. In the past 3,400 years, humans have only been at peace for 268 of those years, aka 8% of recorded history. 108 million people have been killed in war during the twentieth century alone. But like John Adams, I will want to study and work so that my children might have a better future. Because what do we always without fail do as human beings? We hope. Let us take the next step. I want to study art and culture, so that my children can learn to be better people than I ever thought of being. In hope that they can understand other children, and be at peace with their differences. There is beauty in the culture of this world, and I hope that one day it will bring us together.
Please share some of your favorite art, archaeology, literature,music, food, or history from an affected country below. I am always interested to learn and discover new things!
Peace and long life.