A False Choice Between Art and Science

Lets see if we can attempt to discuss matters that are much lighter and happier than what we talked about last, something a bit different than last week.  Maybe it wont necessarily be on the exact opposite of last weeks spectrum of topics but this week I have been wondering about bi-modal patterns of thought. I must admit this discussion idea was inspired by the current US elections and the flagrant differences between the electoral votes and the popular votes. Now said like this, it is clear that both votes represent and mean different things but what caught my attention was the need to divide the choice in two, thus adhering to a certain bi-modal thought pattern. By bi-modal thought pattern, I mean a certain insurance that any matter needs to be one way or another, in other words one mode or the other mode and no other way than either. So, that got me wondering whether or not it would be that difficult to reach a level of understanding that enables all parties to reach an agreement or share certain degrees of compromise. With further in depth thought, I realised that from within the society that we live in, it is close to impossible to understand that the only available choices to us are either one or another because we are taught from our earlier years that we need to make decisions between one or another imposed set of choices.

To give a clearer example, one I have been pondering on for quite some time that I would like to evoke that of the difference between the art and the science careers.

Everyone, not only in Ethiopia but in the entire World, knows that anyone with any level of education in the sciences is more praised, paid and prayed for than their counterparts in the arts. The majority of us have been raised with the expectations that we will one day be doctors, pilots, engineers and or any of the career possibilities opening up to science studies. Though wishful thinking of ones child to be invested in a career path that is life changing to others is commendable, it is most of the times more than obvious that these choices are most often made for financial and economical reasons. For these exact same reasons, any of the career paths open to the arts studies are most often looked down upon and unfortunately discouraged from the very beginning. Now, think about it, why could it ever be necessary to adopt a bi-modal or dual thought pattern? Have you ever wondered why it was ever necessary to be a part of either parties continuously? Like, why is it that we can not hold our grounds and our beliefs exactly where we see them, without necessarily being with or against any of the two available choices to us?

In addition to the limitation of the available array of choices that would logically need to be made available to us, we also need to be aware of the scale that we put these available choices on. Think about the idea of an artist being less of a human being than an engineer. Think of a doctor being more of a dignified citizen than a musician. If you have a vivid imagination, than you can also think about the architect or lawyer being better than the painter or writer. I am sure that for anyone making sense of these series of questions it all sounds nonsensical. However, is this not the society that we live in? One where it is more respectable to be a medical doctor, a pilot and one following any other career path within the sciences rather than arts? That being said, I wonder if financial and economical reasons suffice in making a kids life a living hell by pushing towards an unwanted and undesirable career path. So I come back to ask why the necessity to be of one or another? Can we fathom the concept of being able to be of both?

I am sure that nowadays a lot of families are being more lenient and more accepting of the career choices of their children but that still makes it the few from the many. Can the understanding that arts is as difficult and yet as satisfying if not more to pursue than the sciences be sufficient to make anyone think twice about the career choices they want for their offspring? Can we acknowledge the amount of hard work, talent and personal skills it requires to pursue a career in the arts or in the sciences? As a society, do we know what we are teaching our children? Can we understand that we are instilling the fear of never being enough as living, breathing human beings to begin with? And furthermore, can we acknowledge that we are enabling them to think less of those who are in the arts and worse think less of themselves if they arent in the sciences? I wonder, if it wouldnt be easier to accept the choices of everyone as not necessarily bi-modal but as personal choices. I wonder if we can accept anyone else who appears to be slightly different than ourselves, in the way that we talk, walk and especially live?

Christine Yohannes writes about social change, performs at public events and conducts poetry workshops in schools. She has established a monthly event entitled

Published on Nov 15,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 863]



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