We do not need to read all newspapers every day to acknowledge we live in a world full of gun conflicts, wars, and instability.
The United Nations Organization and Oxfam agree on the fact that the list of worldwide conflicts is large. However, the most serious are currently:
The Syrian war
The Central African Republic conflict
The war in South Sudan
The war in Yemen
The armed conflict in Colombia
In light of this distressing information is common that we ask ourselves what we can do individually and as a collectivity to work against the effects of violence and to alleviate the suffering of those who are immersed with these problems, and how we can make our contribution for creating a more harmonious society.
We find the answer in art. The relation of art and peace culture is very close and undoubtedly; thanks to it, we can canalize feelings of pain, resentment, sadness, and melancholy, helping in this way our human soul and conscience.
Art is a path to peace since it gives you the possibility to express yourself without restrictions, allowing you to exteriorize emotions that, must of the time, are repressed. Art is fundamental to portraying inhumanity; increasing awareness of the daily atrocities; and giving visibility to those sights that, traditionally, remain muted.
Since all situations are very complex, art and culture might not be a final solution for all conflicts, but they certainly clean the way to build less violent societies.
Over the centuries, architecture, cinema, dance, sculpture, photography, literature, music, and painting have testified people’s daily life, and among all that, many authors highlight conflicts, worries, anguishes, and problems that humans have faced in each age.
Let’s take the multiple works that were created at the work concentration camps from National Socialist Germany during the Second World War as an example.
Prisoners from these places made different artworks as a way of resistance, clinging on the satisfaction of creating something beautiful in the middle of a devastating landscape. In that case, art goes further than the need for expression, it is a matter of life or death.
And even when properly speaking this works did not cause by themselves the end of the war, they do contribute -first with they were underground exhibited and then massively- to show what happened during that time and to prevent the same horrors from the past to happen again.
As it happens, here in Mexico, we still use art to prevent violence. In an attempt for “responding on a timely and effective manner to the challenges presented by the incidence of violent events within schools from the country”, the Public Education Secretary (SEP for its acronym in Spanish) launched the Learn to Live Together strategy, whose goal is that “students learn to act with critical judgment in their daily lives and that, at the same time, they assume the values of democracy, peace, freedom, diversity, and respect for other people and human rights.”
This strategy has a section in particular called Art and culture as an instrument for social peace. Here, is precisely where actions for improving students’ artistic and cultural training; for driving them to different ways of artistic and cultural expressions, and for spreading the cultural heritage of each state take place.
As we can appreciate, any form of art, creation, or culture has a vital role for the construction of better, more plenty, freer human beings that are connected not only with their interiors but also with what is happening around them (for better or worse).
Thus, art is a breeding ground for more fair, united, and balanced societies. The art and beauty that surround individuals pass order, truth, and good-being on them, changing those things with which we do not feel satisfied: our imperfect and conflictive world.