During WWII, Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill was asked to cut the arts programs to adequately fund the war effort, to which he responded, "Then what are we fighting for?"
Many of us feel as though these past two years have been akin to a war, or at least a battle. If you are like me, it often feels like we take a few steps forward, followed by a few more steps back, particularly as new variants, such as Delta and Omicron, rear their ugly heads.
Two years later, I don't think I am alone in feeling like I have been in the midst of a war zone, trying to keep myself, my family, my friends and my community safe during uncertain and unpredictable times.
While we collectively try to preserve and protect our physical health, we cannot lose sight of our mental wellness. At times during this pandemic, I have felt sad, scared, anxious, depressed, forlorn, hopeless, mad and defeated — often feeling more than one of these emotions at once.
Reflecting on Churchill's quote, I have come to realize that the man was onto something, and art might be a much-needed respite to our ongoing struggle. Will we solve the world's problems with a bit of paint and paper? No. Might art bring us some light and happiness in these dark, cold, Covid-laden days? Yes, I think so, and there is solid evidence to back this conviction.
Last month, I ordered some coloured pencils, crayons, and sketching paper on a whim. I hadn't done much drawing and colouring since I left elementary school, but I thought, "what the heck!"
When it came in the mail, my heart was delighted, and as I started to colour my less than realistic, stick-figured tree, my soul felt lighter and happier.
I am not claiming that art can solve our problems, but it might help keep our spirits lifted and preserve our mental health. We must hold our public officials accountable for protecting us. But we must also work together to protect our physical and mental wellness so that we can emerge from this pandemic strong and ready to continue our pursuit of a better tomorrow.
Jack Trovato (he/his)