This I Believe

Chris - Atlanta, Georgia
Entered on October 26, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: creativity
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The Everyday Art of Faith in Humanity

Writers and poets, like other artists, take a great leap of faith every time they pick up a pen. That their words and ideas have meaning, can make a difference, and can inspire and lift others in great mysterious unpredictable ways. We beat our chests a lot making that argument to nonbelievers, the jaded masses, and the life-weary common man. We have to believe that the power of art to inspire and transform is one of the great gifts that makes us human, makes the difference between being a spiritual being and just another animal walking around on the planet looking for food and shelter. However, sometimes we do falter, doubting even ourselves. Perhaps sometimes we argue so loudly to help convince ourselves. It’s probably one of the greatest breaks of faith we can make as creative beings, questioning whether a story, a poem, a song, a play can really have any real lasting impact, or may just be a light diversion. What value does a life as artist have?

There’s lots evidence that might shake our faith. When was the last time a pop song led you to a life-changing experience, or a sitcom gave us some hallelujah moment of human insight? One of my favorite questions to ask writers and artists is “why do we create?” I know exactly the answer I’m looking for, I just like to fish for reaffirmation. I want the answer to be “because we have to, it’s who we are, we can’t help it, it’s part of being human.” Imagine my disappointment when I asked at a well respected poet at a recent poetry “Why do people become poets?” and the response I got was a deadpan serious “Because it’s an easy MFA and a good teaching track.”

So yes, sometimes it feels like a test. Like someone is making us doubt ourselves. However, in the end, we have to dig in like a rabid street preacher, and despite odd looks and glances, we have to let the spirit move us. We have to believe in ourselves as creative beings, as artists.

Then here’s the important part. Let’s say you can faithfully buy into the role of art in driving humanity to loftier goals, and let’s take that as a universal truth. Let’s extend that theorem. Art reflects life; therefore, life itself can dive humanity to loftier goals. So in the end all that’s really needed by anyone is an artistic approach to living. It just requires people to be open, observant, feeling, and communicative. So artists lead the way. Once we become true believers in the powers of our own magic, we then become missionaries carrying the message out to everyone that will listen.

Then we all get to believe that things will get better, understanding is possible, and there is a greatness to humankind we’re destined to achieve. We all get to create a little faith in the fine art of humanity.