Saturday, February 09, 2008

Artists speaking truth to power

Daily Kos just pointed me to an opinion column in the Washington Post written by the great pianist and conductor, Leon Fleisher. That's right, a political column by a musician. Fleisher writes of his dilemma at being honored to be honored at the Kennedy Center Honors, but being dismayed to be connected with the dishonorable Bush administration. I appreciate his candor, and especially his decision:
Turning a blind eye to the political undercurrents of the event dismantles the very force of art in this country that the honors celebrate: the freedom, nay, the obligation to express oneself honestly and without fear. Ultimately, there is no greater honor than that freedom.

We all need to speak truth to power, even when that means forgoing an honor. I wish Fleisher had done more, though his article raises a voice that perhaps was louder than a non-Kennedy Center Honoree would be. And since I've never been up for a similar award, I cannot claim any moral superiority in my own decisions. But I do know that life is too short to make ethical compromises, but life is too fragile not to make some compromises (a great saying I read on Father Jake's blog, though I can't find it now).

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