Saturday, October 24, 2009

Renaissance in America

In a nation that is reeling from natural disaster and war, I think it is very timely to consider dialogue on promoting an American Renaissance. What is an American Renaissance, you ask? Wasn't the Rennaissance a period of artistic and cultural rebirth in Europe during the middle ages? How can we adopt such a cultural movement in America and how does the word renaissance apply to us? America is a perfect place for such a movement. Why - because of its rich history and overall good standing in the world. We can do much today to build on the historical infrastructure in place in America today to produce substantial artistic and cultural progress throughout the nation. To do this, we need to examine several major historical points. Let's go over them:

1. The Culture of Migration - America is a country that is built on migration - as is the continent. We should reflect on the culture of migration to provide more insight into our way of life today and how we can go about becoming better people. The Jewish migration is especially unique - Jewish culture did much to enrich the current cultural and artistic fabric of America and produced some of its leading figures. Since many Jews sought asylum in America, we must define the experience in historical terms. Irish, Italian, German, Chinese, Japanese and Middle Eastern are all part of the same fold. How can we gather all the historical patchwork of these bygone generations to knit America a new cultural quilt that is worthy of a renaissance standard. To this extent, we might also devote a special section on American anthropology.

2. Slavery and African-American Equality - we need to examine this closely. African Americans are the backbone of our common heritage, culture and history. How can we look at America and fully ascertain the advances of African-Americans and create a new appreciation for African American art, culture and history and the enormous contribution of blacks to democracy that shines like a beacon throughout the world.

3. Native American Culture - nothing fascinated me more than Native American culture in the United States. These are indigenous people and we must preserve their heritage in its totality. The simplicity, the plainness, the creativity, the common sense, the bravery, the pride, the mystery and the pragmatism of the native tribes has long inspired me and will continue to inspire future generations. This important aspect of American history should not be neglected with the passage of time but celebrated in a way that not only considers the American view but offers a more holistic anthropological perspective.

4. The Legal System of the United States - the legal system of the United States, and the stature of the Supreme Court and for which it stands, is admired throughout the world. We need to study the legal system in a holistic way? What has transpired in the last 300 years or so? How can the system of jurisprudence in America advance human progress and produce more justified and justifiable laws that can be corroborated with the laws of other nations. Perhaps, we may be inclined to consider a jury that is full of Twelve Happy Men rather than Angry. How can we sum up the important legal precedents that have shaped much of our life here in these great states - should we should establish specialized schools that can gather this information so that our legal concepts continue to develop in a way that is worthy of a Renaissance seal. I hope so.

5. Literature in America - the history of literature in America is vast. Why can't we establish schools that study the history of literature and produce informed, positive inquiry on the value of literature to human progress. Who are the great writers, playwrights, novelists and poets and how have they advanced American values in their work that can now be passed onto future generations in a concise way. How can this bring us closer to higher knowledge, being and ultimately, God? This work is greatly needed.

6. Education in America - I formerly studied at Teachers College, Columbia University. I relished the opportunity to study at such a reputable institution. Why - because the entire college was devoted to one goal - promoting education and was founded by such Newtonian giants as Dewey and Butler. Why is their work important to us today? How can we preserve their legacy and build on their achievements? Who are their progenitors and how can we better define our long-term commitment to education. We must turn the soil once more to till the ground.

7. Religion in America - what has been the advances of religion in America? How has tolerance increased throughout the years? How can Christians, Jews and Muslims and peoples of other faiths gain mutual understanding and importantly, embrace one another in a positive way. How can this lead to a religious Renaissance?

8. Science, Math and Engineering in America - we were the first to land on the moon. America has boasted some of the leading scientific inventions by prominent thinkers such as Einstein and Edison. How can we build on the scientific advances of this country and bring this knowledge across the globe - how can we teach green building initiatives to other nations and allow them to embrace and utilize that knowledge to advance their societies in the ways they see fit. We must reflect on past scientific progress and assess how science, religion and culture can coexist and establish a proposed commission that can define science in transcendental terms to universalize, restore and unify our existential dreams.

9. Agriculture in America - how has American agriculture transformed human society in our time? How can we study agricultural advances and develop ways of assessing the impact of current agricultural methods that include farming and mass production. Since Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle, can we produce an updated study on our commmitment to agriculture - and emulate the ways of the wise farmer. This should help us to better quantify and account for food production in the United States much in the same way as oil production in Arabia and help America feed the world.

10. Technology - technology is a great part of our lives. Technology governs much of our existence and daily work. How can we use technology better and utilize technology in the most beneficial way and preserve also, the value of the technological content that is transmitted through these means. We must not let technology override our desire to harness technology for the overall good. We don't necessarily want a society that resembles the war-torn overture to the movie Terminator. Let's use technology wisely and perhaps then, history will be kind to our renaissance effort.

Let us reflect on these ideas and keep these goals in mind as we move forward to renew America during a time of crisis. Let us also remember the agents of the former Renaissance who brought us so much art, culture and humanity to form a new Renaissance that embodies that same spirit. I hope the people of America will take heed.

No comments: