Happy New Year to everyone! If you've read the post title you may be wondering what the two have in common.
Late last night, er, early this morning, I got to watch a replay of the ceremony in Dallas commemorating the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination. I'd wanted to see it as I was eager to hear David McCullough's remarks.
He recited many JFK quotes and this snippet really hit me: "I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world, not only for its strength, but for its civilization as well."
Why did this quote hit home for me? Well, maybe I'm just being a curmudgeon now that I'm over - well, you can guess what age I might mean - but what I saw last night (and have been seeing) on the tube - well, I just have to shake my head. I tried a couple of channels having countdowns in NYC. Sorry, but what passes for humor these days just leaves me cold. There was also one snippet of a musical performance or video, whatever, that I caught before I switched channels. I found it pretty tasteless. Oh, and NBC - when that last minute of the year comes, I want to see the ball fall, not your 'personalities'!!!
So when I heard Mr. McCullough speak those words, my recent viewing experience immediately came to mind. What kind of civilization are we becoming? I thought the arts were to inspire, to lift up. I won't even say what I think of some of the "art" stuff - popular culture or what have you - around these days. And humor? We all like to laugh, right? But so much of the humor these days is either trashy or mean.
If we want to command respect for our civilization, surely we need to elevate our arts, humor, public discussions. I wonder if people are now so far removed from the kind of art and discussion that elevates that they've forgotten or don't know what it can be like. President and Mrs. Kennedy did much to support the arts during his administration. But this needs to continue both at the official and grassroots levels.
So stand up, people. If we support better art, humor, discussion, maybe we'll actually get more of it.