Is it not only to our benefit to know how to discuss important issues, but also, our responsibility? Chris Hicke says yes.
We’re surrounded by quotes, memes, and various bits of life’s wisdom passed on from one generation to the next. But how do we make those words and phrases relevant? How do we apply them to enrich our lives and the lives of others? For Inspiration Unpacked we ask our writers to share a quote that they’ve applied to their life and work and unpack the truth they find in it.
“It’s not that I purposely want to get in trouble. I just believe if you are not doing work that can make people stop, think and discuss, then it’s better not to make any work at all.” – Sebastian Errazuriz
This quote, attributed to a modern artist and designer, goes to the core of how I seek to present myself. I firmly believe that anyone striving to be an artist or intellectual figure must be willing, if not aiming, to start a serious discussion about important issues and topics. They must be controversial, be it in message or the delivery thereof, and be willing to stand by their statements when the discussion gets heated.
The purpose of art is to make people think, be it to inspire them to become better people, consider new or different viewpoints, or to accept hard, sometimes uncomfortable truths that they’d rather ignore. The meaning of each work of art will, naturally, change depending on the viewer, where one might see the work of the band Rise Against as nothing but angry delinquents, another may see scathing social commentary of the status quo. It is this difference in perspective that will, hopefully, lead to a meaningful discussion about the artist’s message (in this case, the consequences of consumerism, ecological destruction, and income inequality).
Even a heated discussion, one that borders on or becomes a full-blown argument, can have value. If nothing else, it means that at least one side has heard a new perspective. Perhaps it will lead to nothing more than the solidifying of already held beliefs, which can itself have value. More likely, and certainly more preferable, is that these new perspective will open new insights and curiosities that pave the way to new and expanded understanding of the world in which we live.
Who can truly say they understand an issue as large and complex as economics, for example? Or the necessity of armed conflict? Who, for that matter, will ever come close to such an understanding without examining every possible angle and weighing their pros, cons, and the evidence for each? Who better than the artist to inject this curiosity and discussion where it is needed most?
Photo: Flickr/Calgary Reviews