How many of you keep journals where you write down your thoughts and feelings? Does it make you feel good to get it all out on paper? Art in all its forms, whether writing, music, painting, dancing, etc. has been found to have an immensely therapeutic power on people. Often, it helps people give vent to deeply buried emotions and trauma that perhaps they would not face otherwise.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) recently published its 2010 State of the World Population Report, which is about how conflict affects women, and explores questions such as whether women in war-torn countries are faring any better today than they did a decade ago, and whether they finally have a place at the table in peace negotiations and in reconstruction. The report includes a Culture and Arts supplement, which examines the role that art can play in helping people heal from the tragedy and trauma of war.
We often only notice the horrors of war, but as the report points out, the hardship does not end with peace treaties being signed. It takes years for people to overcome the suffering and trauma that they faced and often, the psychological scars can be permanent.
So, it was interesting to see how different forms of art are proving effective in helping people recover. According to the report:
“It has long been recognized that the arts hold the power to expose wounds of conflict, soothe tormented spirits and teach lessons about war and peace. Children in refugee camps draw stick figures of men with guns and houses aflame. In countries as vastly different as Uganda and Afghanistan, informal or more professional drama groups give audiences a chance to laugh or cry or just say, Yes, that’s the way it was—or is. Young Sri Lankans have turned to fiction to explore a violent era of civil war and a tsunami of epic proportions. Cambodians in refugee camps a generation ago kept alive classical Khmer dancing as a precious link to their ruined country’s heritage. Almost everywhere today, creative responses to tragedy go on in many forms.”
The report includes examples of young people breakdancing for peace and helping children with hip-hop music in Uganda.
How has art helped you in your life?