Creative Expression Fosters Social Harmony
In the recent years, the development of the global economy has played a crucial role in establishing trade and cultural relationships among countries and regions in the world. This has opened avenues through which attitudes and values are transferred among individuals, from one group to another, from one community to another, from one country to another and from one region to another. As a result, societies and communities in all corners of the world are faced with a huge challenge to interact effectively with new cultural groups and to embrace cultural diversity. As Eisner and Day (2004, p. 817) pointed out, increased flaws in social and cultural interactions in the recent years have lead to increased possibility for conflicts or disharmony. This has lead to increased need for creative use of communication and knowledge in order to educate individuals, groups and communities about the need for and role of social harmony. Otherwise, considerable misunderstanding, intolerance and hostility could arise. As such, authorities in some various nations have learned the need to enhance social harmony among citizens through implementation of creative expression programs and activities. The term ‘creative expression’ refers to the conveyance ideas or information by participating in a range of activities that allow creative and imaginative expression, such as art and music. As Eisner and Day (2004, p. 817) explained, creative expression programs fosters social harmony by promoting cultural exposure and appreciation to diversity and also improved emotional balance and character. In other words, creative expression activities such as art and music help in fostering social harmony in various ways as discussed below.
As mentioned, one of the ways through which creative expression benefits a learner is to promote emotional balance and character. Individual character is very important because it determines the willingness to engage in conflicting situations or to engage in activities that lead to social disharmony (Eisner & Day 2004, p. 817). Fine arts, for instance, influences the manner in which individuals perceive or make sense of themselves and the world in which they live. It helps them to feel what they touch, to hear what they listen to and to see what they look at. In other words, fine arts enable students to stretch their minds beyond what is written in text or beyond the rules of what is provable. Consequently, it frees them from rigid certainty. Eventually, they learn to imagine the benefits of defining problems facing them in different ways and to develop multiple solutions upon which they choose the best. According to Eisner and Day (2004, p. 817), this helps them to learn how to be tolerant enough to cope with emerging uncertainties and ambiguities. In turn, this helps in improving individual emotional balance when dealing with social problems or issues. The response to problems and issues defines an individual’s character. The impact of fine arts on individual emotions and character is evident in various brain studies. A study conducted by the Educational Transformations Pty Ltd on the impact of The Song Room programs on government schools in relatively disadvantaged communities in South Wales (NSW) supports the view that creative expression helps to improve an individual’s character. In this study, student who actively participated in art programs showed improvements in the behavioural indicators of empathy, tolerance, cooperation, collaboration, and communication (Vaughan et al, 2011, p10). Fiskey (as cited in Robyn, 2010, p. 38) conducted a brain research in various academic institutions in United States on the academic and social effects of art studies on students. The findings of this study indicated that arts reached students in ways that are not normally used in the other subjects. This led to increased appreciation of the studies and lower dropout rate in schools. Additionally, this study found that art led students to connect with one another better. Consequently, they enjoyed from improved peer connections and increased understanding of diversity and hence, fewer fights. Additionally, the researcher found that arts helped to bridge socio-economic gap that existed among students. Burton (as cited in Robyn, 2010, p. 38) also conducted a study of more than 2000 students from different schools in US. The findings of these studies indicated that students in the fine arts curriculum were far superior in problem-solving, cooperation and self expression and were low tempered. In summary, the results of these the above studies indicate that studying of fine arts and music programs and activities lead to improved emotional balance and ability to handle interpersonal relationships and to avoid conflicts.
Secondly, creative expression promotes socio-cultural exposure and appreciation of diversity. Art and music, for instance, provide a common ground for social interaction among people from different social-cultural backgrounds. According to Eisner and Day (2004, p. 817), this provides an opportunity for individuals and groups to think with others in new, exiting ways and to adopt and to respect their deferent ways of thinking and practices. In other words, creative expression helps individuals, and communities to embrace and to respect the uniqueness of themselves and of others. They interact effectively with one another and take that opportunity to identify and to adopt the good practices exhibited by others. Improved acceptability leads to improved social relations among individuals and groups from different socio-cultural backgrounds, hence improved social harmony (Eisner & Day, 2004, p. 817). In UK, for example, the notion of status or cultural superiority has been rampant in the past and frequent conflicts have been occurring among individuals from different social status and racial backgrounds. Arts and cultural activities such as music festivals have been useful as tools for enhancing cohesion in this society (Bianchi, 2011, p. 279). The arts and heritage sector in UK has been responsible for developing initiatives that enable individuals, groups and communities to embrace their social or racial diversity by promoting initiatives programs that support one planet concept, human relationships, ethics, human right, cultural identity, morality and tolerance. This sector is also responsible for dealing with cultural or racial conflicts and to promote fair trading among people from different cultures or races through exhibitions and workshops (Bianchi, 2011, p282-283). The impact of these efforts in UK is visible with the improved relationships among people of different social, cultural or racial backgrounds. In response to the events of 11 September 2001, UNESCO demonstrated that Arts and culture can provide pivotal responses to global issues, exemplifying a non-sectarian agenda. By establishing the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2002) which enshrines the common human heritage and supports humanity’s potential for participating in an adaptive cultural experience with capacity for expression, creation and innovation. In this manner, UNESCO confirmed the centrality of culture in fostering development, economic stability, social cohesion and the human need for intellectual, emotional and spiritual fulfilment (Bianchi, 2011, p282). This evidence indicates that art and cultural events provides a formal opportunity for interaction between cultures and creates opportunities through exhibitions, workshops and multicultural events for citizens to increase their understanding of cultural diversity. This helps to improve relationships in the society and helps to achieve the goal of social harmony.
In conclusion, creative expression plays an important role in fostering social harmony. Activities such as art and music in the society help to improve interactions and relationships among individuals, groups and communities. Specifically, they enable individuals who study them to improve their emotional balance and overall behaviours. Additionally, they bring people from different social and cultural background and enable them to embrace each other’s uniqueness and to interact effectively. As demonstrated in this essay, there is sufficient evidence to support the fact that creative expression leads to social harmony.
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