What is art worth to you?
My fifth grade teacher at Vineland Elementary School in San Jose was Al Oliver. Mr. Oliver was a very cool guy. In addition to teaching fractions and grammar and the American Civil War, he introduced us to the Beatles and Stan Freberg and the twist. We didn't just study Hawaii. We had a luau! We didn't just learn how to read maps. We drew a scale model of the United States on the playground blacktop.
Of course, back in those halcyon days, teachers had the luxury of teaching. Students did more than prepare for state tests five days a week. Yes, I know...that was before everything changed on 9-11. It was even before everything changed on November 22, 1963.
Well, some things have not changed. The human spirit still needs outlets for expression. The soul still refuses to be stifled. Painting and poetry and dance and sculpture and theater all require artists. We can't have a civilization without such enlightenment.
A popular American president once said this: "The arts and humanities teach us who we are and what we can be. They lie at the very core of the culture of which we are a part, and they provide the foundation from which we may reach out to other cultures so that the great heritage that is ours may be enriched by - as well as itself enrich - other enduring traditions."
Care to guess who said those words? No, not FDR. Not John F. Kennedy. Not even Bill Clinton. It was that other lion of liberal politics, Ronald Reagan, in 1987.
The arts are not the domain of the left or the right. They require both wings in order to soar. They are as American as Norman Rockwell and Robert Mapplethorpe. They are as fundamental to being human as the air we breathe.
Causes Terry Phillips Supports
Armenia Fund, ACLU, Doctors Without Borders, World Wildlife Fund, Amnesty International