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Inmaculada Jiménez Caballero, School of Architecture, University of Navarra, Spain

Why not invest in culture?

Wed, 15 Feb 2012 10:29:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

It seems right to everyone that culture is the sector that suffers the most in terms of government investment. No one disputes that health and Education are priorities, and naturally culture occupies a very secondary place. This evidence obeys to the idea that culture is something like "the ornament" of society, and with difficulties to survive, nobody is to think about "ornaments".

However, the lack of culture always leads to mediocrity, and without it, the aspiration to improve is replaced by many other mediocrities. Mediocrity often leads to corruption, and corruption leads to general deterioration, the forerunner of disaster. Remembering our rulers at the beginning of democracy, we can see that they were generally more sensible and less arrogant. Almost all of them, from the right, from the left and from the center, were, above all, much more educated.

This was a generalized condition. Today almost all of them are less so than those and perhaps this circumstance is at the origin of many strategies that seem to lead us to more distant and difficult forms of social understanding, while some of them shamelessly exhibit their shortcomings.

To be cultured means to know history, to try to understand the world, to understand man and his behavior, to be aware of human weaknesses and of the capacity for individual and collective self-improvement.

To be cultured means to preserve the tangible and intangible heritage, to defend the individual and collective identity, to have courage, sensitivity, courtesy, toughness, kindness, perseverance. Knowing that there are things that are worth more than money and companies that mobilize more than a media or sporting event. To realize that effort always achieves better things and that time is an intrinsic value of everything that is worthwhile.

Culture always imposes respect, to the equal and to the different, leads to resolve conflicts through dialogue and to value the effort to progress as the most precious resource, understanding failure as an essential experimental part of progress.

Culture is synonymous with civilization and intellectual progress. As Paul Valéry said, Education instructs and culture strengthens the spirit. Culture, not instruction, allows us to survive in precarious conditions of material scarcity or spiritual destitution; it is what survives generations and peoples. It is what builds history.

deadline It is true that investment in culture has long term effects deadline but if when designing a bridge we consider a flood of water that may occur in a 500 year period and we consider this condition reasonable, even essential, why would it not be equally sensible to consider the effectiveness of investment in culture in the long time span of one or two generations?

It is the nature of this society, so educated but so little cultivated, that has modified the objectives of the progress to which it aspires, provoking an unprecedented crisis from which we will only emerge with an enormous investment in culture.