This year Beyoncé and Jay-Z staged, performed and recorded their latest music video at the Louvre in Paris. The single Apes**t from their new album “Everything is Love” was created against a backdrop of some of the most famous art in the world.
Their showmanship and point of view have been described by some as groundbreaking and relevant and by others as inappropriate and presumptuous. More importantly, their work exposes crucial truths once invisible or considered by some to be objectionable.
The world we live in, culturally, socially, politically and ecologically is changing in dramatic ways. Long-held and cherished beliefs, whether religious, cultural or scientific, are giving way to new facts, conditions and circumstances. Many of these new social facts are inclusionary, multi-cultural, feminist, etc. and were generally unthinkable in 1776 when our founding fathers began the American experiment in self-rule. Still, after almost 2½ centuries, too many of us remain in an exhausting struggle when it comes to finding security and that proverbial place in the sun.
As I said, the times are changing, faster than they used to change. Like every other animal on the planet, we must adapt to the world and the climate in which we find ourselves (or die) and hatred, violence and denial, despite the prevalence of their current practices, are not acceptable means if our civilization is to survive and thrive.
I understand the appeal of nostalgia, tradition and the “old school.” On the other hand, the more we learn of our global world the easier it may be for us to understand the merit (and what I think is the inevitability) of the diversification of values, attitudes, traditions and practices.
The outside-of-the-traditional mainstream view can be a powerful and, ironically, an involved and inter-connected one. The Carter’s (Beyoncé and Jay-Z), by integrating their art with thousands of years of tradition, bring new associations, belongings and understandings into the light. If we let them, they excite our hearts and minds, give pause to our certainties, attitudes and parochialism and ignite a fire under our inertia, indifference or lack of historical consciousness.
I have a similar goal in mind.
- When we develop a philosophy of life that oversees the stubborn resistance and misguided provincialism (often couched in loftier rhetoric) of the oversized ego, we are better able to comprehend and appreciate a more realistic description of the world we live in now.
- When we’re less egotistical, arrogant and self-righteous, we are less likely to be cultural dinosaurs, less likely to think that humiliating and disparaging others is a sign of class, prosperity and privilege.
When we do this, we’re more open to being taught, to expanding our horizons, to taking responsibility for how we behave and to contributing to the wellbeing of others. These acquired qualities of character make us more competent when it comes to engaging practical life, even when its fast, changing pace requires us to adapt, to adapt and to adapt yet again.
This is an updated version of my original piece, “Beyoncé at the Louvre” posted on my blog.
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