Thursday, May 11, 2017

Jason T. Garcia - The Humanities: Our Ideas, Values, and Beliefs

Jason Garcia is the Program Officer for the Minnesota Humanities Center’s Veterans’ Voices program. As a 21-year Army Veteran and retiree, Jason is committed to serving our nation. His status as a combat Veteran, with first-hand understanding of the challenges and opportunities of transitioning from military life, makes him a welcome addition to the Humanities Center’s team and well-positioned to lead the Humanities Center’s Veterans’ Voices program.

For 21 years, I traveled the world as a soldier. Along my journey, I was exposed to countless conflicts of ideas, values, and beliefs. I witnessed the terrible destructive capacity of humans when diplomacy failed, and dwelt in locations of unimaginable dark desolation. When I reflect on my journey, I ponder the eternal question—Why? Why did I willingly place myself in harm’s way? Why did I voluntarily endure such hardships? Why did I expose my mind, body, and spirit to such hostilities? On an individual level, I relate to the humanities as a way of exploring those very personal and deeply emotional questions. As a member of the human collective, I think the humanities have the potential to allow us to transcend those conflicts in ideas, values, and beliefs.

The humanities allow us to experience different ideas, influence us to evaluate our values, and inspire us to challenge our own beliefs. They help us to understand one another by facilitating open-mindedness and illuminating culture, and empower us to share our individual experiences so that we may discover our commonalities. Artists like the renowned painter Francisco de Goya put pigment to canvas to expose man’s inhumanity, and the writings of spiritual leaders such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama provide insight into timeless cultural traditions of compassion. They have used the humanities to illustrate the full spectrum of our human potential. Throughout human history, the humanities have opened our minds and eyes to the world around us and have taught us to be teachable. The humanities relate to the issues of our current times by providing us with a means to explore the enduring question of what it means to be human.

“The arts and humanities are vastly more important in troubled times.” - Jim Leach

The Global War on Terrorism has been waging for over 15 years and has resulted in civil unrest and misunderstanding within our society. Today we are more disconnected from one another than ever before. As one soldier among a U.S. contingent of over 2 million troops, I often feel that disconnect and experience a deep longing to be understood. For I am a soldier, but I am a person too. I long to discover the differences and commonality among my civilian contemporaries. How does a civilian citizen experience our fight against terrorism and how do they see me? I yearn for an opportunity to express my story and I hope that the experiences of my comrades are not left unheard. I find faith in the humanities; for they are a means of expression to share how we individually experience the issues of our times. They are a podium from which to freely share our personal experiences and give us each a voice to whisper wind-gently or roar lion-loudly. Ultimately though, the humanities allow us to better understand each other’s ideas, values, and beliefs and “focus on what unites us, not divides us”.


  1. I'm so proud of you Jason! Continue to take good care of our fellow vets.

  2. We are very fortunate to have you as point-man for us vets. Keep up your wonderful enthusiasm and thank you for 21 years of honorable service.