Thursday, February 19, 2015

Angie Batica - Is there hope for the Humanities?

Angie Batica is a U.S. Army Veteran from St. Paul and a 2013 Minnesota Humanities Center Veterans' Voices awardee. Angie volunteers her time to many Veterans organizations, helps raise a family, and assists with the family martial arts business. Most recently she designed the Woman Veteran license plate for the state of Minnesota. Angie is pictured with Senator Alice Johnson who was an author of this successful legislation.

Unfortunately, most news indicates the humanities are indeed in trouble. One culprit is government funding cuts to ‘soft’ educational programs like history, literature, and the arts, which the humanities encompass. When money is limited, funding steers towards ‘hard’ programs like science and math, providing ‘necessary’ skills to students. However, over half of business leaders realize the humanities are essential to the workforce because they help create good decision-makers, critical-thinkers, and personable employees.

What about organizations, such as the Minnesota Humanities Center, which nurture this very subject? These establishments still function while educating the public on all aspects of human culture. While interest may dwindle in areas of education, all is not in trouble within society. State and local funding still supports organizations like the Minnesota Humanities Center, so we must continue to assist them. One way to understand the importance of the humanities is to look at them from the standpoint of a Veteran.

Veterans come home. They return from a world very different from the world of those who have not served. Veterans don’t talk about it. They assimilate into their communities. They work next to you. They shop next to you. They date and wed you. But who are they? Who are they really? Do you know anything about Veterans except what you see on TV?

Veterans, like myself, commonly hear: ‘Thank you for your service,’ and ‘Support our troops.’ We hear Veterans are all heroes, have all seen war, or exhibit PTSD. All or none may true. There are sub-groups, such as minorities, who are Veterans and harbor more unique experiences and challenges. Who are the Veterans living next to you and what are their contributions to society? What are their hardships? Studying the unique culture and mindset of Veterans is necessary to understand how Veterans relate to those who have not served.

Veterans remember the military’s culture, customs, and language. A military language example is: ‘CDR, SOP, TDY or R/S’. Interpretation is not crucial, but you can visualize that a Veteran’s world is vastly different from society and how readjustment into the workplace and civilian life can be difficult. Most Veterans don’t talk about their experiences and most of the population doesn’t ask.

Enter the Minnesota Humanities Center. The Humanities Center teaches us to understand, unite, bridge, and respect our commonalities. Their 2014 Veterans Day event for example, “Listen to a Vet: Bridging the Civilian-Veteran Divide,” with Dr. Paula J. Caplan, sought to close the information gap between Veterans and civilians. Their Veterans' Voices program showcases Minnesota Veterans and the public is educated by their shared accomplishments.

Is there hope for the humanities?

I’d like to think so. The humanities are only in trouble if we allow them to be. As long as organizations such as the Humanities Center continue their mission, the humanities will not be lost. The humanities and history are intertwined. We need to know our past to envision the future and not repeat mistakes. To lose the humanities is to lose what it means to be human.

1 comment:

  1. "The humanities are only in trouble if we allow them to be." A timely reminder to those of us who care about them that the humanities won't be helped one bit by our whining. And we have every reason to be grateful to veterans, who are reminding us that the humanities provide common ground for those who have seen war up very close and very personal and those of us who haven't. Veterans' voices are adding at least as much to the humanities as they are drawing from them.