Thursday, February 26, 2009

Moral bankruptcy

Occasionally, the Philadelphia Inquirer has the good sense to publish a letter I've written to them. Lately, an article appeared detailing the staff cuts that are coming to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It prompted this missive, soon to find the Editorial section:
The Philadelphia Art Museum is cutting staff, the Philadelphia Orchestra is having financial troubles and libraries are closing. Meanwhile, the Eagles and Phillies both raised ticket prices and continue to enjoy sold-out crowds.
I think that says a lot about society's values, and it's a shame that there isn't a better balance.
Keeping things short is a key to having a letter published. I leave the wordiness and verbal festivals to this place. Newspapers are in trouble everywhere, and the two here in Philadelphia have recently declared bankruptcy.

I suppose it's because more and more people are getting their news and information from the Internet, but it might also be because newspapers are 75 cents and people don't see it as being worth the money. If my office is any example, my Inquirer is routinely taken from the recycle bin in the afternoon and read for free by several of my co-workers. They owe me 12 cents each.

I've been reading a daily newspaper since I was in grammar school, and the prospect of not having one is a bit frightening. I spend the entire day in front of a computer screen (including now) and I relish the opportunity to get my fingers dirty turning pages and trying to finish the crossword puzzle.

Great chunks of society are going down the drain as we find new and (supposedly) better ways to gather information and entertain ourselves. Mostly, they cost more than the old ways and they are driven by the youth and their new habits. When art museums, libraries and Symphony Orchestras start closing we lose a lot of what makes us civilized. Of course, large numbers of people don't know how to behave in those places, so perhaps it says something about why they are failing.

We've become a society of people who walk around with our heads in our cell phones, plugged into ear buds and yammering about in shorthand text-talk. [For the record, I punctuate and capitalize my text messages] Meanwhile, garbage entertainment and mindless junk thrives.

Those who do not respect their history are doomed.


kimmyk said...

It's always the arts that take a hit first. I hate to think of what will happen as the year progresses if they predict things are going to get much worse.

when my kids were little we use to go to the art museum for hours and they'd take paper and pencil and sit and doodle. i miss that. abbie was always so fun to watch, because she would watch the other artists there and she'd watch them smudge and so she'd try it with her fat little pencils. so fun. such great memories.

Anthony said...

It seems as though we always give up quiet intellectual contemplation for noise and nonsense in every walk of life.