” We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives us abundance, has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity.”
In “The Great Dictator.”
From “Nicholas Nickleby.”
For discourse … not discord…
For democracy… not demagoguery…
“Whether creative thinking, or creative writing, with cultural politics, and cultural diplomacy, working cross party, to cross divides, here is our statement of purpose…”
-extract from the Statement of Purpose.
THE ARTS AND HUMANITY’S PROSPECTUS
From Lorenzo Cherin
Welcome to The Arts and Humanity’s Cause. Please scroll, browse and read this opening page, and importantly, the Statement of Purpose, which you can read afterwards, just click the header above to reach it. It is a statement that truly explains what here, we are all about. Here to begin with, though, is a way into the website, an opening into our efforts.
Whether through working in the arts and culture, participating in politics or campaigns, in the many ways I do, and the ways many do, I seek to contribute. This site, combines the personal with the professional, the political with the poetical. It is a project to help create real progress. If to progress is to advance, this site comes now, completely up to date and from now on, shall be advancing ideas for what is a new era. Covid-19 has the potential to change so much in our society, with the need for creativity, for the good of humanity.
The great Liberal philosopher and member of parliament, John Stuart Mill, referred to “the art of living.” He was steeped in the Utilitarian ideas of “the greatest happiness of the greatest number,” yet went beyond that notion. Here, we are indeed interested in each individual person, in people’s happiness and well-being. As with so much in his writings and indeed his own life, Mill showed us ways and gave us pointers, to a good life, not least through his Harm Principle, that we should live and let live, at liberty, unless we do harm. And that where there is harm, we curtail the liberty of the indulgent, taking liberties! This is what here, we have in mind with this site.
The great poet and exile, Ovid, said “a faithful study of the liberal arts, humanises character and permits it not to be cruel.” This was the essence of the effect of art, to him, in a sense. The connection with the philosophy of Mill, and the similarity of this sentiment, to the Harm Principle, might not be a coincidence, as Mill was very influenced by the arts, poetry, and the classics. The liberal arts, which Ovid so contributed to and encouraged and Mill so appreciated and needed, are important. This is not an art website, but as influence and inspiration, the arts form a backdrop to, and are at the heart of, the humanitarianism we are developing here too.
This site does not have one view, of the word, often distorted, which is: liberal. It does not mean “bleeding heart,” nor “neo-liberal.” It is for the liberal arts, and a liberal attitude, but for liberal democracy and the development of a wider, humanitarian movement, beyond ideology, that is more subtle and has more strength, than a “knee jerk !” We are cross. Cross about injustice, poverty, inequality, bigotry, corruption, lies, sleaze, pollution, and importantly, disease! Yet, we are cross party. We do not believe tribalism is the answer to the problems we face. We feel bi-partisanship is the solution. Anybody, whether or not they are in a political party, knows that to be independent minded, is to be open minded, to be liberal minded is, or should be, but often isn’t, to be both.
Here we have a sensibility that is humane and a sense of humour! If traditionally, philosophy, is amongst the arts and humanities, the necessity, practically, is to develop ideas as an art form, that can serve a humanitarian cause. We are, here, for the developing of a philosophy of life, rather than an ideology or dogma. All who are of independent, open, mind, who are minded to join in here, are welcome, regardless of any party affiliation.
And we attempt changing the political culture. We are for unity, not unanimity. This site avoids, something which might be found elsewhere, sometimes, for example, as a feature of certain student campuses across the Atlantic, and in politics itself. I refer to the tendency, even amongst those who profess liberalism,or progressivism, to illiberal intolerance of other opinions, and regressivism. There is regularly the practice of calling things offensive, when what is the case, is merely a difference of opinion, or a different way of explaining it, not to one’s liking! Safety first, can make sense, but the desire for safe spaces, ought not to lead to a bunker mentality. Obvious insults and name calling should not be accepted, but are not the same thing as disagreement or criticism.
In the well meaning desire to avoid the cesspit that the internet can become, there is a danger of sites having, a form of social media, cleansing ! To not want to attend a School for Scandal, is understandable, but this does not mean we should turn into a Sunday school at best, a correction school at worst! But to be against, no- platforming, is not to be for, giving a platform to hate, or being forgiving of it! The political forum that has been referred to as the bully pulpit, in it’s modern form here online and on this site, shall be no place for bullying! As I often find party politics, off-putting, whichever way we look at this, though, be assured, I shall not be a party to putting people off politics. Dishonourable conduct, by a few Honourable Members, whether Prime Ministers, Presidents, or parliamentarians, those few who do let down the role of the powerful, cannot ruin the importance of the contributions of those who do such good. And as that applies to those in power, it does, as much, to those of us who seek to empower. This is a site that encourages social interaction, but that is not self indulgence!
This site is mainstream, and as radical as it could, or sometimes, might be, it is, appropriately for an online venture, a moderating influence, in it’s political preferences, rather than it’s technological tendencies! in a political and technological terrain, that is, it has to be said, increasingly, extreme and chaotic, moderating here shall only be to dispel and defeat extremism and not to avoid chaos! Although it is a noble desire to avoid it, there are ways and means whereby it is best avoided!
The site encourages the development of the politics of the arts, the enhancement of the art of politics, and as a result, the betterment of both. It intends to be different, not for the sake of it, but is interested in making a difference, for the sake of all of us. It continues work begun and ongoing, both online and elsewhere, by me, and takes it forward, and takes with it, with me, and any who join me here, those who inspire, or who are, inspired…
John Stuart Mill
Philosopher, Liberal mp
“Scope for all sorts of mental culture… room for improving the art of living.”
John Stuart Mill
Poet, Roman exile
“A faithful study of the liberal arts… humanises character and permits it not to be cruel.”
Giuseppe Verdi Domenico Modugno
Composer, patriot, mp Singer-songwriter, activist, mp
Panoramic view of the Roman theatre in Palmyra, Syria, the scene, more recently, of destruction and carnage by ISIS.
Harriet Beecher Stowe Josiah Wedgewood Designed Pendant
Author and Abolitionist Anti-slavery Symbol
Baroness Floella Benjamin Joan Baez
Performer,writer, politician Singer, human rights activist
“At a time when politics deals in distortions and half-truths…truth is to be found in the liberal arts.”
Joyce Carol Oates
The Arts and Humanity’s Cause has a particular affinity, with the Statue of Liberty.
The Statue of Liberty is uniquely symbolic of liberty. And yet it is an example also, of artistry, with it’s remarkable design and sculpture, by Frederic Bartholdi, and creation with his colleagues. It is of course a beacon for humanity.
It also has, as part of it, another great work that expresses liberty, reveals artistry, and enhances humanity, and that is the poem, The New Colossus, featured on the plinth of it, was written by the wonderful poet and progressive activist, Emma Lazarus.
The arts… at the service of humanity…
and humanity… in the service of art…
Audrey Hepburn was so much more than a movie star. Actress and humanitarian, UNICEF Ambassador who went beyond the call of duty. She brought feeling to all the work she did and to all those whom she touched. “The best thing to hold onto, in life, is each other,” she said.
Sir Peter Ustinov, actor, writer, director, humanitarian, UNICEF Ambassador. He received many honours for his work on screen, on stage and on the world stage.
Sir Peter Ustinov with Baroness Shirley Williams, politician and political academic.
Lord Richard Attenborough, actor, producer, director, humanitarian, Member of the House of Lords and another UNICEF Ambassador. His values led to his making “Gandhi,” and “Cry Freedom!”
Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in “To Kill A Mockingbird.” The actor, producer, was a lifelong participant in causes and a humanitarian , an early recipient, honoured with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Lyndon Johnson, who, had he stayed in office longer, planned to appoint Peck as the American Ambassador to Ireland.
Actor, activist, Will Geer, was involved in radical politics when young, blacklisted because of this, years later. Unable to find work, he utilised savings to take a mortgage on land in California, working as a horticulturalist, before finding work again.
He built a theatre on the land, a not for profit venture still going strong, run by his daughter, actress, Ellen Geer. Will Geer was a strong advocate for the environment, as well as LGBT rights. He found fame only in his latter years, on film, and memorably in the Waltons on television.
Paul Newman was an actor, director, and activist, whose lasting, greatest legacy, is the hundreds of millions he was involved in raising over decades, with his Newman’s Own, not for profit company, he established, with his friend, the writer A. E. Hotchner, as well as the input and support of his whole family,his daughters took on roles in this, and his wife Joanne Woodward was a fellow activist and philanthropist who worked with him
With salad dressing and many products, all proceeds from the funding-raising efforts and profits, went to charity and community projects
Projects, benefited, such as their Hole in the Wall Gang, camps for sick children, a venture that has expanded throughout the world.
Friend and colleague of Newman, for decades, Robert Redford, as well as being actor, director, producer, founded the Sundance Festival, to help independent filmmakers. He too is involved in many causes with a strong commitment to the environment.
Elizabeth Taylor was more than a film star and a fine actress. Her philanthropy of many years was joined by a massive contribution to the fight for a cure for HIV, AIDS and support for sufferers at a time when few in government were listening in the US.
She regularly spoke to politicians in the Congress and at conferences.Her work and her foundation continue as a legacy, for which she was honoured as Dame Elizabeth Taylor by the UK.
British actor and writer David Kossoff was well known for his theatre , film and tv appearances, and for re-telling of tales, especially from the Bible.His son Paul Kossoff, a highly regarded musician, died of a drug overdose in the early seventies and with his founding the Paul Kossoff Foundation, David Kossoff dedicated much of his time to speaking to young people about his son and making them aware of the dangers of drug addiction.
When actor, producer, director, Brian Rix, became the Secretary General of Mencap, after years of dedication to their cause, it was because of his own involvement and with his beloved daughter, who had Downs Syndrome.The fact that he and his wife Elspet Gray, his frequent co-star and partner , had been encouraged to put their daughter in a home, gave then, little understanding of such issues, the push to more progressive and humane ideas. Rix became Lord Rix and made a very definite and ongoing contribution to the House of Lords and legislation.
Angelina Jolie, actress, producer, director, special envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Vaclav Havel, playwright, dissident, later President of the Czech Republic. In 1990 he received the Prize For Freedom from Liberal International.
The Saudi Arabian Liberal writer, Raif Badawi, is in jail, sentenced to ten years and a thousand lashes, for creating a freethinking blog website! He too, was honoured with the Liberal International Prize for Freedom recently.
And this is where earlier, we came in. Charles Chaplin, in his masterly film, The Great Dictator, the speech, artistry, humanity.
THE ARTS AND HUMANITY’S DECREE
The Statement Of Our Purpose
By Lorenzo Cherin
We live today in dangerous times, but was it not ever thus ? Did the citizens of the ancient civilisations in antiquity, not sit side by side the most uncivilised behaviour. And did they not make art? Were the DeMedicis of Florence not contemporaries of the Borgias of Rome? Did the Renaissance not precede the Inquisition? Was the first Elizabethan era not threatened by the Armada? Surely the Age of Enlightenment, was the name for something that had somehow always been there, and in a sense never would. Yes we live in dangerous times, yet wonder if it was ever thus.
But now, more than ever, we can speak our mind, and now, more than ever,we must. A few can shatter buildings, where people once, went innocently going about their business. Or they can vandalise buildings, where people once, were individually showing us their brilliance. But they cannot destroy an idea, if an idea is worth believing in! We will always remember 9/11, and Palmyra is part of our world. An idea can become an ideal, and an ideal can be made real. What is imagined in the human mind, and made with human hands, must be maintained, and more. It is through our creativity, we can try to create a better world.
To create, is to contribute. The artist is an amateur, the arts are much loved. The artist is a professional, the arts can be hard work. The artist is a dreamer, the arts help us dream. The artist is a thinker, the arts make us think.The artist is a student, the arts are worth studying . The artist is a teacher, the arts teach us so much. The artist is an actor, singer, dancer. The artist is a writer, painter, sculptor. And the arts, in each act, are a song and dance, a writing of wrongs and a putting the world to rights, with the painting of a picture, or the sculpting of a model, of what might be. Within, all artists could be free radicals, without each artist, there would be a mono-culture.
We need the arts, for a better quality of life. While the needs of the artist, are for a greater equality of living standard! Our goal in art and life must be fulfilment of potential. Too often in the specific field of the arts, the contrast is falsely assumed, or wrongly made, between public art and private achievement, subsidy and success, the obscure, and the ostentatious. So it is in politics, one way or the other, win or lose, left or right. But the truth is often in between and beyond. This is a metaphor for much in our discourse and debate. It can serve us when seeking to advance ideas. Why must the answer to that which we do not like, automatically be the opposite of it? Why does it have to be either or, why can’t it be neither and something more?
In order to achieve this, we are indeed, changing the political culture, and doing so, on the political stage. If politics is the art of the possible, then a political artist can help make things possible. Here is the context of a cause and a setting for it’s significance.
But for some today and for some time, what we can see and say, is there is a culture shock. Forces are rejecting the cultural norms of liberal and tolerant societies. There are indeed cultural influences that are themselves hostile to our popular culture. But we cannot successfully combat that which is not understood. We shall though here, go beyond multiculturalism and way beyond moral and cultural relativism. We can defeat the extremism, overcoming cynicism, racism, antisemitism, with an effort for humanitarianism, combining pragmatism, realism, idealism.
Whether creative thinking, or creative writing, working cross party, to cross divides, here is our statement of purpose. The aim is to be entertaining and enlightening.To feature the personalities and the individuals and those who’re rightly celebrated. To advance the policies and the ideas about which we’re rightly concerned. This is the The Arts and Humanity’s Cause. It is a cause for celebration and a cause for concern. It is a cultural prospectus, for a radical proposition. It is a rallying cry, for realising freedom. It is the reasonable hope, that we be responsible with it. It is cultivating artistry and articulating humanity. It is for learning the art of humanitarianism. In doing so there are no hard and fast rules, but this is what we are working towards, this, humanity’s decree.
Give an honourable mention, to the best of human intentions, enrol in The Arts and Humanity’s Cause and extend the honour roll!