The value of the humanities

A demand for saving art, keeping music, teaching civics in the schools is not asking for favors, Justice Souter proclaimed. Rather, it is vital for the stabiliity, even the very survival of the United States, which is hampered by a voting citizenry that is grossly unaware about how the government of the country is supposed to work.

Last month, I attended a lecture by former US Supreme Court Justice David Souter about the importance of the humanities. There was a article in the Times Union that was factually accurate. Still, I’m going to muse on what I got out of the talk.

Justice Souter assumed everyone in the room was his ally in the fight to save the arts, music, civics and the like, so it was not his intention to persuade those of us who were already convinced of its efficacy. Instead, he spoke of poetry and its fundamental importance. Noting the famous poem, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, Souter said he got to see the poet recite without reading it; Souter did the same with this audience. The justice said that the cursory reading of the poem would suggest that we ought to take “the road less traveled by.” Yet, a study of the poem, its context, its history, would reveal Continue reading “The value of the humanities”