‘Artists with a mission’
THIS is apropos of Hajrah Mumtaz’s column ‘Artists with a mission’ (Aug 8). Right off the bat I would like to express gratitude to the writer for homage to the arts. As is stated, quite rightly, too often in our society artistic endeavours are viewed with a callous condescension.
Pakistanis forget the very conception of our nation was proposed not by a doctor or an engineer but by a poet and a philosopher. It is important to realise it was the very study of these subjects that allowed Allama Iqbal to exercise his creative faculties in such a way that allowed him to formulate the nation we inhabit today.
In spite of the roots that poetry and philosophy occupy in our nation’s heritage, societal ‘norms’ dictate that a student studying arts must be of lesser ability than a student of the sciences.
From childhood, unfortunately, any notions of artistic pursuits are immediately and intensely reproached, so much so that the child inherits this highly ignorant and narrow-minded mindset from his parents and in turn endows this distorted teaching to his own offspring. Art informs, challenges, shocks, provokes, excites, questions, entertains and so much more and yet we fail to see the potential that lies in these intellectual media.
Performing arts in particular have a vital role to play in engaging the public consciousness and initiating discourse. From time immemorial, plays and musicals have flourished in times of austerity.
From street theatre to stage musicals, theatre holds a mirror to our very soul and gives us an examination of society in a way scientific study simply cannot. It transcends the borders between standards of education and allows one and all to observe the impact of our environment on our community from an outsider’s perspective.
What is fiction but a means to examine our reality?
Twisted perceptions of the arts suffuse our schooling as well. Rote learning and an overwhelming bias against independent and critical thinking result in students viewing a study of the arts only as a backup plan for those who are not ‘smart enough’ to gain admission to an engineering or a medicine course.
Partially, this problems stems from how we view money as the only success in this world. Therefore, studies are geared not towards enlightenment and discovery but simply as a means to obtain short-term profits.