Photo courtesy of Min Enterprises Photography, LLC
We live, as the blessing/curse says, “in interesting times.” It may be ironic there are now renewed calls for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), as well as the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). It was only last year that we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the NEH, which was founded in a belief that the humanities are as critical as the sciences to the nation’s success. It was created, as the founding legislation says, because “Democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens” and because all Americans should be “masters of their technology and not its unthinking servants.” Those three statements are probably more true today than they were 50 years ago.
It’s ironic that people are calling for the NEH’s elimination because we may need the humanities now more than ever, for at least four reasons:
We all need help understanding and communicating with people from different backgrounds and cultures and with different opinions.
We need help understanding the world around us, and that requires that we know something of the context and background that’s necessary to make sense of the current moment. And that understanding comes from history and other humanities disciplines.
We need the humanities as tools and knowledge that help us create a desirable future, one we will all share.
Finally, we need the understanding, solace, and meaning that people have found in the humanities for millennia.
The Humanities Center’s approach affirms we’re all in this together—using philosophy, literature, music, history, and language—we focus on what unites us not divides us.
Either now or when the details of the administration’s proposed budget are more clear, we encourage you to call the offices of Minnesota’s congressional delegation, and:
Thank them for their past support.
Ask them to continue that strong support.
Tell them why you value the Minnesota Humanities Center’s work and that of the NEH.
You may especially value how the Humanities Center provides transformative professional development opportunities for educators, co-hosts the Smithsonian Water/Ways traveling exhibit with six greater Minnesota sites across the state, and creates and continues to offer unique Veterans’ Voices storytelling, discussions, and an annual awards ceremony, to benefit all Minnesotans.
In either case, tell the delegation a story to make your support real.
Ask friends and family members who live in other states to call their congressional delegations, and even if your friends don’t know the work of that state’s humanities council, ask them to tell their elected officials why they value the NEH as well as the NEA and CPB.
We also ask for your generous financial support. We couldn’t do what we do without it.
David O’Fallon, Executive Director