“This is an extraordinary time full of vital, transformative movements that could not be foreseen. It’s also a nightmarish time. Full engagement requires the ability to perceive both.”
By Maria Popova
“There is no love of life without despair of life,” wrote Albert Camus — a man who in the midst of World War II, perhaps the darkest period in human history, saw grounds for luminous hope and issued a remarkable clarion call for humanity to rise to its highest potential on those grounds. It was his way of honoring the same duality that artist Maira Kalman would capture nearly a century later in her marvelous meditation on the pursuit of happiness, where she observed: “We hope. We despair. We hope. We despair. That is what governs us. We have a bipolar system.”
In my own reflections on hope, cynicism, and the stories we tell ourselves, I’ve considered the necessity of these two poles working in concert. Indeed, the stories we tell ourselves about these poles matter. The stories we tell ourselves about our public past shape how we interpret and respond to and show up for the present. The stories we tell ourselves about our private pasts shape how we come to see our personhood and who we ultimately become. The thin line between agency and victimhood is drawn in how we tell those stories.
The language in which we tell ourselves these stories matters tremendously, too, and no writer has weighed the complexities of sustaining hope in our times of readily available despair more thoughtfully and beautifully, nor with greater nuance, than Rebecca Solnit does in Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities (public library).
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I agree with current scholars that rights must be accompanied by other measures to ensure human dignity and eliminate suffering because ‘they alone cannot answer all the moral crises facing the world today’ (Robinson 1998: 66). In this vein I will attempt to argue that art education and art therapy can complement the current law based approach to human rights advocacy, especially in areas where it has failed to deliver people from suffering and trauma.
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On the tail end of the contentious and ugly US presidential campaign of 2016, the third and final debate perpetuated the animosity the candidates have toward one another. As the debate sank lower into depths of mudslinging, Donald Trump proved yet again that he could not control his mouth, facial expression, temperament and overall vitriol. The gem of the evening however, came toward the end, when Mr.Trump had the audacity to lean into the microphone to interrupt Secretary Clinton and express to the audience with a clown worthy frown, “She is a nasty woman.” Secretary Clinton, as usual, did not bat an eyelash, or respond.
Sherri received her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Friends University in Kansas City, and her master’s degree in art therapy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has worked for many years as an art therapist with children, adolescents, families, elderly and people with dementia.
(Artwork- handcut paper cut by Sherri Jacobs)