Throughout my life I have tried to revisit the question: “what can I do to make the world a better place?” When injustice leaves me with a heavy heart, I seek an antidote to the often overwhelming weight of the world. Like listening to a favorite record or getting lost in the pages of a familiar, well-worn book, advocacy and activism can provide solace. I am also fortunate enough to be inspired by my job and to be part of an organization that does meaningful work.
These days I have been asking myself an altered version of that question: “what type of human being do I want to raise?” When I found out I was pregnant last summer, I tried to narrow down the most important answers. I know that I want to teach my child kindness, empathy, and to stand up for what she believes in. I want to teach my child to embrace the traits that make her unique and to value differences in other people. Disclaimer: I also want to teach my daughter to have impeccable taste in music. Surely her (in utero) concert experiences – Bob Dylan, Jack White, Beyonce & Jay-Z to name a few – have had some impact on her, right?
Art in all forms can help us instill these values in our children. It has the power to transcend borders and breakdown walls – especially if we are willing to open our eyes, ears, hearts, and minds.
We are lucky to live in this extraordinary state. My husband and I are not originally from Arizona, but we’d like our child to have a strong sense of belonging to where she was born and for her to have a resolute bond to this place.
Our daughter has been on adventures in national forests, walks through the tall pines, and hikes deep into mystical desert canyons. Last weekend, I wanted to take her somewhere just as magical to witness the fusion of art and history and introduce her to the significance of this land to the generations of people that have lived here before us – the Heard Museum.
While I appreciate that a four month old is still too young to grasp the concept of systemic racism and oppression, she can certainly recognize the beauty in the woven histories of vibrant Navajo rugs from the late 19th century.
She loved the museum. She was drawn to the vivid colors of the textiles hanging proudly on the museum’s walls. One day she will be able to understand the historical and cultural significance of art in a museum, or the lyrics of a protest song. For now, it is my job to lead by example.