I’ve been reading, of course, and books have touched me as they often do, making me think about my life and the world. Right now, I am alternating between reading a novel and an autobiography. Charles Dickens’ Bleak House is wide-ranging in scope, and his criticisms of the British legal system of the time are scathing. How sad that his plot was based on fact—but a good example of fiction working to create social change. The other book is Bruce Springsteen’s memoir Born to Run (no surprise for those of you who know what a big fan I am). Like his lyrics, the word choice of his writing is perfect for his ideas and descriptions. I am also struck by how honest he is, including his flaws and mistakes as well as his experience with mental illness without trying to minimize it or make excuses. I hope this helps us get rid of the stigma associated with mental illness, something so many of us deal with in our lives.
Another piece of art that spoke to me lately was Ken Burns’ film Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War. If you haven’t seen it, please go look for it. Its depiction of a couple’s work with WWII refugees inspired me to make a donation to UNHCR to aid today’s refugees. It’s not much compared to what the Sharps did, but it is something I can do to contribute to the world and help save lives.
And last but not least, President Obama gave a proclamation for National Arts and Humanities Month. I leave you with this quote:
In seeking to break down barriers and challenge our assumptions, we must continue promoting and prioritizing the arts and humanities, especially for our young people. In many ways, the arts and humanities reflect our national soul. They are central to who we are as Americans — as dreamers and storytellers, creators and visionaries. By investing in the arts, we can chart a course for the future in which the threads of our common humanity are bound together with creative empathy and openness. When we engage with the arts, we instill principles that, at their core, make us truer to ourselves.