The Necessity of Liberal Arts

photo of library study area

What is Liberal Arts? You may have heard of it before, but never taken the time to see what it’s all about. For some the idea of anything involving ‘art’ is useless to the general public. For others the term ‘liberal’ indicates sympathy with left-leaning politics. Neither statement could be further from the truth. Liberal Arts are “Academic subjects such as literature, philosophy, mathematics, and social and physical sciences as distinct from professional and technical subjects.” But they are even much more than that.

As Professor Cecilia Gaposchkin of Dartmouth College reasons, “the point of the liberal arts approach is to learn how to think, not simply what to know”. Anyone can memorize information, some better than others. This is made even easier in a digital age where any question can be asked of Google, and reliably answered. The greatest minds in history are recognized as such because of their great powers of reasoning. They didn’t simply spout information when asked. They tested existing data and performed new experiments, always searching for a greater understanding of the truth.

In the words of Michael Roth, President of Weslyan University, “Education isn’t just an object that you use to get started in a career; education is a catalytic resource that continues to energize and shape your life. Education enhances your ability to develop new skills and capacities for connectivity that allow you to solve problems and seize opportunities.” Within any particular field, there is always a need not only to compute and store information, but also to use that information to acquire new information, in a safe and ethical fashion.

In a world with so many problems, we need people who can give us some answers. Now more than ever we need people who know how to think. Now more than ever we need people who can reason, who use their education for something greater. Now more than ever, we need Liberal Arts.

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A Song of Things I Can’t Explain

photo of a lake with lone tree at sunset

There is a strength

Too strong to know.

There is a depth

Too deep to go.

 

So many things

I just can’t say.

If only I

Could find my way.

 

There is a power

Too powerful to hold.

There is an age

Ancient to the old.

 

So many things

I can’t explain.

All I know is

We’re in pain.

Eclipse

Eclipse.jpg

I pass through places dark and lost,

Prices higher than what I’d cost.

I walk through worlds without a word,

Watching the flight of an mockingbird.

I stride through cities consumed by the past,

Sorrowful nations that had seen their last.

I stagger through streets sometimes all alone,

Searching for a seat to call my throne.

I dance through domains drowned by death,

Desolate darkness where none draw breath.

I ramble through realms wrought in the rain,

Rebels and rogues who realize pain.

I flee federations forgotten and found,

Fading fantasies that fear has crowned.

I linger through lands longing for her lips,

Lonely and lamenting this my heart’s Eclipse.

The Dream

large_bonfire

By: gammälräkürin

As I lay asleep in bed,

a fiery dream flickers in my head.

Rotting corpses, rank and dead,

I cannot stop the feeling of dread.

 

As I fall down to the ground,

a fiery dream races around.

Pale faces, drained of blood,

gore soaked into the mud.

 

As I cry to my demise,

sobbing, choking on the lies;

my dreams come and go like thieves,

A cadaver going and going grieves.

Fingerprints

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By: gammälräkürin

Each and every word you spoke,

was fire in a wooden bowl.

A cloth you dyed; a chain you broke,

fingerprints upon my soul.

 

Every kiss in your warm embrace,

gently took its toll.

A knife in my heart, tears on my face,

fingerprints upon my soul.

 

Each day I live without you near,

is a day I weakly crawl.

Without you I have only fear,

those fingerprints upon my soul.

Be Gentle

gentle-are-strong

By: Gammalrakurin

Gentle. Think about that word for a moment. Simply repeat it and toss it around your mind for a moment. I shall try not to prattle on for too long, as I believe the previous exercise is sufficient for numerous essays of simple thought and contemplation. However, I would like to elaborate a little on exactly what gentleness is, and to do that, I believe I will start with what gentleness is not, and then reaffirm what I believe gentleness to be.

The most common misconception about gentleness is that it is a way of being soft, even weak. You can either be soft and gentle, or hard and cruel. Anything else would be a contradiction of terms. This, however, is not the case. As St. Francis de Sales said, “Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.” To be gentle is to be compassionate, and sometimes the most compassionate thing a person can do for another is to give them a hard push in the right direction.

Another delusion concerning gentleness is that it is a personality, or a character trait. Some people are gentle people, others are rough people. It’s simply the way they were born, and they cannot change. I, on the other hand, would say that gentleness is a state of mind, a way of life. While I agree that certain people are gentle, and some people are rough, I hold that this has nothing to do with what sort of “people” they are born as.

In contrast to the previous fallacies, I find that many people so reject the idea of gentleness being synonymous with softness that they altogether disassociate gentleness with kindness of any sort, moving from the orthodox concept of a hard compassion to something cruel that eventually even ceases to bear the name of gentleness, instead favoring that title of totalitarianism. While found only uncommonly in that stage of tyrannical tendencies still abiding the designation of gentleness, it is at this time that the concept poses the greatest threat to true gentleness, and to society.

As a result of these misapprehensions, it is important to really understand what gentleness is, and what it is not, otherwise we risk ourselves and others being lulled into the belief of the very falsehoods I have just summarized. As the exercise above showed, even the very word of gentleness has a power, causing us to really express physically what the word itself expresses emotionally, this perhaps being the reason the word is often spoken to babies and children. Thus we must not hold gentleness to be anything more or less than the zenith of all kindness, compassion, strength, and justice as it occurs within the world, and within ourselves.