Dr [insert your name here]

We are plagued by the “necessity” of becoming a doctor or an engineer, and at times an architect. These angular jobs jab at our humanity. Most people select these professions for their high salaries. Literature, history, arts and languages are of no use here. Or are they? Let’s address why these beautiful aspects of humanity are required in our modern culture

Literature: Helping us connect
Let’s start with literature. You may ask well, why must we spend our time reading poems, when out there we have a war, people dying and mouths to feed? Literature pulls us through emotions, events and choices that we might go through ourselves. Books that describe tragedies of life like divorce, murder or even the events that lead to a corrupted government, will allow us to lead life safely and securely. It teaches us morals and shows us how the people who are ignored on the streets truly feel.

Literature helps us connect – we are taken across continents and through different cultures. It feeds our morals. It shows us how things are from different points of view. “Why is that girl wearing a scarf on her head?” is no longer a question in the West, as they have been provided with literature. These different points of view also help us consider our actions. Literature gives us role models of true kindness, generosity and sympathy that we may not see in our day-to-day life – either because they are hidden, or because it’s the tragedy of being human.

Literature strays away from the system that values money, and therefore teaches us morals. It is honest about the world as to how absurd it is. The slight hesitance that you have before speaking to someone you like is explained perfectly by writers with just the right words, making us feel human. We are given a map by these writers to travel across our minds without paranoia or persecution. Furthermore, literature teaches us about humanistic behavior, ie failure.

In our mechanical lives, we see people coordinating perfectly and meticulously as if they were passed a guidebook that you never had, and so your failings as a human being – how you hit your toe on the corner of a table, or accidentally spilt something on your most expensive suit – become self-destructive. Why are you not perfect? Literature is therapy, not a passing pun. It’s long-lasting and pretty much your only friend. It helps when our mechanical minds decide to feel a bit more human, and need a guide to help us.

Who we were You might’ve remembered history as that boring lesson at school. All those talks about Florence Nightingale, The War of the Roses, Stalin – what were they really for? Especially in this modern era? They are a solution of the problems of the present. History also shows us how certain events lead to tragedy – have you seen any parallels between Nazism and IS? We are constantly being bombarded by things that have occurred in the past couple of minutes, and we ignore the looming devastation that brought up these events in the first place.

Most importantly, history has shown that things can change – and thus empower us. People once weren’t so materialistic – there were times where people inscribed runes telling epic tales. Those who don’t know history won’t be able to improve on the present. If you say that the present now is incredibly bad, I’ll reply that the past was just as bad – we couldn’t improve on it. We have washed away our gift of being in the present. Sure the present is bad, but it’s not the worst. History can console. Lastly, I cannot stress even more that history should be used to find solutions to our problems, for the sake of the present and not the past.

The reason why we have arts is obvious, isn’t it? It’s far too simple to explain and yet too complicated. No, it isn’t obvious, otherwise we would all have art decorating all of our walls in our houses. Art can be beautiful; it gives us hope in a desolate society; it saves us from slipping into despair and depression. A meadow of daisies with children playing under a blue sky is a piece of hope that we keep near us, to allow us to function properly into the future.

Joy and beauty Art makes us feel less lonely – we keep a facade of joy on our faces, whilst looming under is a swarming storm of negative emotions which we don’t spill out just so we don’t seem odd. Art assures us of the normality of pain – it’s human. Some of the world’s greatest pieces are renowned for their ability to accurately portray sadness. Despite this commercial society which shows us how perfect people’s lives can be an advertisement, art shows us the pain and torture people have to go through to get that perfect life.

Art helps us by showing us what we lack – if you are excitable, you may look upon the serenity of a landscape painting or some mellow blues in the background. Art unites us with what we lack. We can use art as clues to what is missing in an individual by what they find beautiful. Art makes us more appreciative – you may look upon a blade of grass growing through a crack between bricks in Kuwait with not a lot of thought – however, an artist may paint the blade of grass with glory, as under the circumstances, the blade of grass defied natural thought and has grown in a place not thought possible.

Clouds could be drawn in a certain way to look majestic, as if the artist is gleefully praying to the Lord, for the Lord has made a beautiful Earth. Art is an advertisement as to what truly matters – compassion, government, simple life, tenderness and so much more. Art gains authority in a distracted world, because it is human.

Utterly human Language transcends all socio-economic and ethnic differences, demographics and cultural behaviors. The power of acquiring the knowledge of communicating in multiple languages is superficial. Tensions dissolve upon the realization that we all have that innate need to be connected. This ultimately broadcasts our humanity in day-to-day life. Yes, we are all human, and all crave connection. Not to mention that multiple languages wield the power of understanding cultures. Why does India have a lights festival? Languages help us not to judge anyone – we are all odd and out of place – no need to be frightened of this. Maybe this would’ve stopped IS – now we don’t even know; we don’t even understand their motives other than domination; we don’t know because we have perverted the basic teachings. I use the word “we” because it’s a human failing.

Languages hold so much power, that the people who have been scorned for this have grown into mighty empires. Think Hitler, who motivated Nazi Germany into insane customs with the power of languages. Language is a powerful tool, so ignorance about this power is the fall of nations.

Creativity and humanities need to be nourished, because in the end, we will pay the price with our own humanity. To my friends who have chosen their paths straying away from the sciences – you know who you are. My angels, you have been teaching me how to live. You have breathed morals back into me. I can’t say how much you all mean to me. Thank you.

By Sana Kalim


This article was published on 18/05/2017