After a very intense day at work I came home, had dinner, watched a bit of TV and had a glass of wine and now have sit down to collect my thoughts.
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is heavy on my mind. I suppose in part, because I always find political assassination to be particularly distasteful. It is so contrary to the order of society and political discourse. Another reason I think it hits home with me is that I have been thinking a lot lately about the role of arts in society the past few days and how democratic nations where free speech is tolerated is a place where arts should by all rights flourish and those nations that are controlled by a strong government of censorship and repression of ideas should be free of such artistic expression.
I look at China and Burma for example and am amazed at the courage it takes to be an artist outside the control of the government in these places. Still, we see evidence of courageous individuals who risk much under harsh conditions. Then I think how in our own country so many of us sit back and watch quietly as so many elements of our freedom are challenged from within.
The Pakistani people are truly at a critical juncture and it seems obvious there is a very fine line between the existence of a presumed democratic state and a military controlled one and just how tenuous democracy has become there.
It’s funny that political discourse and artistic expression can both provoke strong reactions from people. So here I am tonight, not listening to any music that I can share with you, but instead considering just how much alike the arts and political discourse are. How both need a positive nurturing environment to remain healthy.
The people of Pakistan tonight must surely recognize how delicate the order to their society is.
The rest of us wait, and watch to see how it responds to the challenges it is presented with. What kind of order and society will survive.
Meanwhile, I think about poetry, music, and other fine arts and realize they aren’t just art, but expressions and reflections of who we are. We need to stop treating them as “just” arts, like in the educational process they are less than. Less than science or math or history. They are after all, who we are as a people. When art is restricted, our expressions are muffled. When that happens, freedom and democracy are on the line.
Political assassinations not only kill people, but the expression of ideas. Suppression of the arts
will kill them too.