An elegy for the arts

© Faizan KhanDreamstime.com

Among the many things that make me sad about the enforced transformation of our lives this year is the declaration of the performing arts as non-essential.

When governors and others in the ruling class closed movie theaters and concert halls and other places where performers take a stage, they robbed us of something that actually is, well, essential.

If you’ve ever laughed and cheered together with dozens or hundreds or thousands of other people, you know what I mean. In those shared experiences is an understanding of what we have in common as humans.

Not essential? Really? Without music, without comedy and drama, without poetry, life is colorless and mostly empty. The performing arts are not only more essential than politicians to our mental health and well-being, at their finest they transcend politics. Heck, even mediocre performances transcend most political dramas.

Last year we came together in record numbers to cheer the story of a group of men and women in masks as they conquered a threat to half the universe. This year we are discouraged to come together at all, and if we do venture forth we are urged or coerced to wear masks ourselves.

Many performers have done a yeoman’s job of substituting virtual entertainment for their usual live gigs, but we’ve lost a great deal by consigning them to video screens and small outdoor gatherings.

I don’t really want to argue over this the way so many of us have. I just hope and pray the day will come when we share the joy again.

Published by WarrenBluhm

Wordsmith and podcaster, Warren is a reporter, editor and storyteller who lives near the shores of Green Bay with his wife, two golden retrievers, and an insistent cat. Author of How to Play a Blue Guitar, A Bridge at Crossroads, Refuse to be Afraid, and A Scream of Consciousness.

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