Things like music, art, language, and history tend to suffer in favour of the all powerful STEM subjects. Science, Technology, Engineering (or sometimes English), and Mathematics are the subjects that according to popular thought, most enable people in their adult lives. Perhaps it's true, we do live in a world dominated by science, technology, engineering, and maths. However, we also live in a world full of culture. We live among thousands of years of human thought in motion and if we choose to, we can surf that wave. We can offer creative or new ideas and thoughts ourselves. This matters, when we understand a thing to its deepest potential, we can communicate with it to a much higher degree of clarity. We can use these things as our tools to communicate with each other, offering what we know and perceive through the lens of the analogies and metaphors we draw on. Knowing what to analogise is imperative.
The non-humanity subjects that help us to get on in a practical and input output based society give us a certain perception of the world which is culturally dry and sterile. We suffer as communities when our stories and songs are forgotten. If we only focus on practical subjects, only the few who actively pursue humanitarian avenues will ever gain the insights that can be gleamed from them. There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom, after-all. We can gain a lot of wisdom from classic literature, world history, obscure cliques, and traditions even if their primary knowledge has no use in daily life. When we learn to think humanitarian thoughts about how something relates in secondary or even in tertiary ways, when we can use our culture to draw on new and creative thinking in ways that others have inspired us to do, we have much more than a mathematical formula to describe a mechanical device. We will have a unique human insight.
The conformist nature of science puts the cork on the part of our mind that wants to think outside of the box. Because we learn that something is the way it is due to universal laws and nothing we can do will ever change that, about everything, it doesn't allow us to use and exercise the part of our mind that doesn't think that way. We are more than capable of dreaming up abstract mental tools which help us to progress in life that do not rely on the material world. Think about how many stories you have read that helped you to make your mind up when concerning the right thing to do in your situation. How many lessons have you learned about life from looking at art, literature, and listening to music? How have you been assisted by the lessons learned from those in the past, whose lives are written about for us to recount? None of these lessons that are vital for a free-thinking individual are technical or scientific. The Fables written by Aesop, for example, are world famous stories about non-real situations which never-the-less contain incredibly powerful wisdom. This is the humanities in their purest form.
The humanities for everyone means that everyone is given the opportunity to develop their mind in the ways necessary to become a free-thinking individual. When we see that through-out history, those who make a real difference to their world are those who try new things, break from tradition, and tell their stories about the world from a fresh perspective, it may help us to realise that it's okay to not conform. When we realise that our differences make us unique, and its our uniqueness that gives us a selling-point that no-one on Earth can compete with, there suddenly is room for everyone to thrive in their own way.
What's the best way to get a culture fix? The theatre! Browse plays, musicals, and performances in London and beyond.
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Rowan Blair Colver for Alternative Fruit
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