On goodness in human beings, here is an interesting and moving quote from John Steinbeck's classic novella 'Of Mice and Men' :
"Guy don't need no sense to be a nice fella. Seems to me sometimes it jus' works the other way around. Take a real smart guy and he ain't hardly ever a nice fella."
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need but not for man's greed.
Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.
Where love is, there God is also.
[source of Gandhi quotes: brainyquote.com]
There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end.
In the beginning of all things, wisdom and knowledge were with the animals, for Tirawa, the One Above, did not speak directly to man. He sent certain animals to tell men that he showed himself through the beast, and that from them, and from the stars and the sun and moon should man learn.. all things tell of Tirawa.
- Eagle Chief (Letakos-Lesa) Pawnee
[For the previous quote alone I would choose the religions of the First Peoples of North America over the Christian, Muslim or Jew. The Abrahamic religions are ambiguous about animals allowing people of ill intent to practise cruelty and disrespect to animals and justify it in the name of their religion. ]
If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.”
Edward O. Wilson
I think of my artwork as part of a conversation with other people, real or imagined, that includes images, words, ideas and information. In other words, a sort of holistic view of the purpose of the image. I use a lot of words, too, and where they are attached to an image they are not an unimportant component of it. They say an image is worth a thousand words but I say you may need a thousand words to help understand an image. I offer my own in many cases, but in a spiritual sense I do not believe they belong to me; once you have taken an image or the words into your heart, spiritually (though not legally) they belong to you. I am an atheist who like Sylvia Plath, prays to God, hoping to be proved wrong. As such, I sit uncomfortably exposed between the faithful and the committed faithless.
I like landscapes, spiritual or mystical themes,wilderness, remote, 'lost' places. I favour "the wilderness" and nature over the man-made landscape - in a long tradition of "primitivism" going back to ancient times in many cultures. This seems specially relevant today when seven billion humans are crushing the wild places and their inhabitants out of existence - the final stages of a process that has been going on for ten thousand years.
Animals are very important to me and believe that they should have the status of Sentient Beings along with humans and we should respect their rights as we respect our own. Because we in fact have control over the environment, we have a duty to nurture, protect and defend animals, not exploit them. This gives me lots of problems with belief systems that put humanity ahead of all other beings, and even denies them souls, such as Christianity, which, sharing the Judaic tradition in the Pentateuch, appears to treat animals as mere products for human consumption. Some oriental belief systems and ancient European paganism help much more with this issue, it seems to me. The Christian "dominion" over animals I believe, allied to modern science and technology, has carried over into contemporary secular civilisation, including such atrocities as vivisection for medical or product research and factory farming. The West, in this respect, has something to learn from India and the nature spirit religions in many parts of the world of peoples crushed and annihilated by the Western tsunami wave of the last half millennium, even while, ironically, India and other places are busy imitating western growth models and consumer culture. As for the Orient, here we enter a zone in which the concept of compassion for animals perhaps does not exist despite so many incredibly sophisticated cultural manifestations. It is as though the light of compassion for sentient beings and an understanding of man's place in a wider natural scheme has burned in only certain parts of the world and is completely out of synch with any formula of human cultural advancement. The nations that built great cities and empires were often crueller than peoples who did not read or write, and communed with nature spirits by the light of shamanic fires in the frozen northlands or in the dark heart of equatorial forests.
I believe that the function of art today is above all to be a witness to what is happening and to express a feeling or opinion about it. That isn't an invitation to glorified journalism : it is a search for truth and an insistence on expressing it whether it proves to be popular or not. Obviously this is an old idea but it's worth digging up again because I think a lot of art since pop art days has become subsumed in the ubiquitous entertainment culture. This doesn't mean that art shouldn't be fun, but I think it should always have a serious purpose if it is to be more than entertainment. . Anything can be art - if it moves you. If it merely entertains, diverts, annoys, irritates .. it's not art but ornament or statement or just diversion. All socially good things in their own way - but not art. There: I've said it. I have an exclusive, highly specific view of art - and I believe it helps. I realise that my view of art, my desire to part of a process to bring seriousness back into the centre-stage, may be seen as anachronistic or even, by some people, reactionary. That's fine; all art is opinion. However, I believe that modern civilisation has buried certain important things under its vision of life as a fundamentally mechanistic and materialist process. Purpose, meaning, connectedness - all has been lost, leaving a hole in the heart that cannot be mended without a spiritual transformation in which a more serious type of art than generally prevails today has a role to play.
I have always believed that art is one of the few things in life that is genuinely redemptive - misery, frustration and disappointment in life can diminish but not entirely extinguish the sense of achievement and creativity that comes from finishing an art job well - and being told you did. I am not self-contained enough to be content with just liking my own work and to hell with everybody else. I need people to tell me that they like it too and when this happens I feel very happy and grateful.