A month before he was assassinated, then-President John F. Kennedy addressed the students at Amherst College and spoke these sentiments about art and artists. This is a short excerpt of that address. (October 26, 1963):
Our national strength matters, but the spirit which informs and controls that strength matters just as much. When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basis human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.
If sometimes our great artists have been the most critical of our society, it is because their sensibility and their concern for justice, which must motivate any true artist, make him aware that our nation falls short of its highest potential. I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist.
I wholeheartedly concur. Artists, including those of us who love and revere the written word, are more needed by society than society actually realizes. So we work hard, we encourage one another, and we persevere! Whether or not we ever receive the “full recognition” that Kennedy refers to, will be of secondary importance to the committed writer/novelist. We write because we cannot NOT write!
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