By Patricia Azevedo
The humanities have been an important part of human life for all known history. Ever since the first words were spoken, they were used for storytelling. Ever since dyes were created, they were used to create stark images on the walls of caves. There is no place in society where the humanities do not roam, no time during which you might find yourself without them.
Yet, as a line of occupation, there are very few who would continue to follow this calling. According to an article done by David Brooks (Brooks), in the past 50 years the number of people going into the humanities in college has halved. When that number was previously only 14 percent, that leaves seven percent of today’s youth going into the humanities, and expecting to come out the other side.
A good deal of people would have the job market explain this. In today’s capitalist US most people go into the fields they believe will pay well, and often they do not see the value in the humanities as anything other than a hobby. Even those who would use the humanities to evoke such thing in themselves as emotion, hope, a sense of escape, have given up that hope as the humanities have been considered a frivolous pursuit.
There has been a decline in the general sense of well-being among the population. In the same half a century, suicide rates, not only in the US but worldwide, have been up 60 percent (Suicide). People have lost their sense of purpose, and for some this sense of purpose would have been this trust that has been lost in the humanities.
The humanities are a wonderful coping mechanism, often those who are depressed will use song, poetry, playwriting, painting, drawing, etc. to escape the doldrum and melancholy of everyday life. Some so much so that they would perpetrate to do this the rest of their lives.
Today, we have committed, as a society, to tell those who would do as such that their pursuits are without reward. We have taken to telling our children that the music industry is dead, and that not everyone who can draw can be an artist.
We have forgotten enough hope that it is no longer passed on. The children of today will study math without feeling, they will read without knowing why stories of such emotion would ever be important. Monotony and apathy reign. There needs to be a change in thought.
If we, as a society, could learn to regain that hope, perhaps the youth in our communities could learn to hold it to themselves. Perhaps with a few more people willing to follow their dreams into the realm of the humanities, there would be a few less people unwilling to remain hopeful, a few less people who feel so out of place, useless, and without purpose that there would in turn be less people willing to die because they see no point in living.
We need the humanities in society, and should we lose many more people in the field there will be very little of the field to play. With the media industry being the booming industry that it is today, you would think more would be interested in this endeavor, and yet less and less people even see its validity, much less consider it a valid vocation or occupation. It seems that the people of today have lost their way. We are so intoxicated by the easy nature of complacency that we have forgotten our need to think for ourselves, we have forgotten that our feelings are each valid in their own sense. We have become so nonconfrontational that we would no longer risk our reputations on our opinions.
We need not go to great lengths to be antagonistic, mind you this is not my intent, but we need to regain that sense of expression that seems to be lost to the ages. We need to remember we are a people with emotion, and that our emotion is in of itself a reason to be expressive. We need to remember how to be human, and that the humanities can be our way to use our lives to become even more so. We need to remember how to tell others what we think in a way that they can accept without the realization that they’re doing so, and we need to remember that each of us is important, no matter what we think, what we believe, or how we choose to spend our days.
Brooks, David. “Humanist Vocation, The.” The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/21/opinion/brooks-the-humanist-vocation .html?_r=0&referer=. Accessed 16 April 2017.
“Suicide rates increased by 60 percent worldwide in last 45-years.” Kaiteteur News. http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2011/09/11/suicide-rates-increased-by-60-percent-worldwide-in-last-45-years-who/. Accessed 16 April 2017.