Thursday, November 10, 2022


I find it extremely humorous that the same folks pressing such wonderfully useful majors as women's studies and gender studies are wondering how useful the liberal arts really are.  While it could provoke laughter, the statements are sad and pathetic descriptions of all that has become wrong with the educational enterprise today.  Ideology parades as scholarly discipline in the woke culture of academia but it is not a path of legitimate study.  Besides, as one wag put it, you can learn all you want about it on social media and you won't have to take out a student loan!  The liberal arts, on the other hand, while not specifically useful as on the job skills, are for the erudition, enlightenment, and encouragement of the best of our humanity.  Of course, the liberal arts can be a victim of the same woke mentality that has muddied the waters between what you want to believe and what is real, it does not have to be a pawn of the woke culture and should not be.

We spend all sorts of money and time on pursuits that are not practical.  Less than 1% of all those who spend money and time on youth sports will end up making them money as players of the sport but that has not deterred us from the pursuit of sports for our youth.  However, it is highly likely that plumbers sing in choirs and programmers read the works of the great authors and janitors appreciate fine art and take up painting than any of them might end up on a sports field.  Why would we presume that liberal arts, which may not directly equip one with a job skill, is somehow a distraction from the practicum of earning a living?  In case you have missed it, modern life exists without slaves bound to an occupation or a position in life without opportunity for anything else.  Instead, though we all work for a living, we are also free in our off time to pursue things that enrich us and our humanity.  

Of course, if there is to be a rebirth to the liberal arts, it may well have to begin somewhere outside the university or even the typical educational settings we find around us.  They are, shall we say, tainted by their need to provide for their own existence, running after donors and dollars, and keeping up with the pace of culture.  The worth and value of the liberal arts does not lie in their usefulness or practicality; their point lies rather with humanity and virtue and with being something more than our jobs.  If we have gotten to the point where we give value only to that which helps us earn a buck, we are no longer free at all and have become slaves to the practical that can be bartered or traded for the essential things of life that keep us alive but do little to enrich our humanity.

I will freely admit that the current crop of liberal arts colleges tend to shoot themselves in the foot, reaching past what is good, right, salutary, beautiful, and worthy for the same elusive self-expression that paints flesh as well as canvas and calls it fine art or turns up the volume on the speakers in the car at the stoplight and calls it good music.  Not everything that is good in our eyes is really good.  But that is exactly why we need liberal arts -- to help us point the way and sort the path between that which is common and that which is extraordinary.  Perhaps if we can get past our screens long enough to learn this, there is a chance that we can strive for something more than the common, the easy, and that which offers instant reward.  Just a thought....

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