Creative Arts

The creative arts can relate to many forms of the arts embodied in action and practice among them (but not restricted to) drama, dance and musical performance, visual arts, writing, publishing, graphic arts, cartooning, film, multi media and design.

In Humane

To be humane is to have or show compassion or benevolence.

Being concerned with the alleviation of suffering.

To interact with care, consideration and respect.


the word medicine is from the Latin ars medicina, meaning the art of healing.

Broadly speaking the practice of medicine is to be

active in the prevention and treatment of illness.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Professor Yale School of Medicine Advocates for a Global Ethic Through Arts and Aesthetics

  This article was  published at the International Journal of the Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice blog, Arts Crossing Borders.   Dr. Lee was also a contributor to the book, Creative Arts in Humane Medicine, Editor C.L. McLean, publisher Brush Education (dist. University of Toronto Press)

The Critical Role of the Arts in Global Governance

 IJCAIP blog Arts Crossing Borders/Guest Post
by Bandy X Lee, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry,
Yale School of Medicine

Building a Global Ethic through Aesthetics

In Ancient China, apart from hereditary power, there were scholar officials who determined the affairs of the state.  These officials were in fact artists, theoretically from any background or social status, who won competitions in poetry, calligraphy, and painting.  Of course, learned philosophy came through in their artwork, but the purpose was to select the greatest humanists, who were assumed to have the greatest wisdom and therefore an ability to make important governing decisions.  This is the kind of civilization that has become legend, one that we can only imagine in our day.
Similarly in Ancient Africa, political systems often consisted of circles of tribal members, divided by age group and gender, which would hold discussions, over and over, until a problem reached its resolution.  Other than that of the chief, political appointments were rare and arose more out of necessity of situation.  This maintained order in a widely spread, decentralized system, kept solutions at a very human (and humanistic) level, and probably prevented any individual or entity from taking over, as has occurred post-Western influence.
As we emerge from some political storms in the U.S. and the rest of the world (wherein Europe went through twelve leadership changes over the past two years), the differences between  our social and political structures come  to light.  Our system requires such specialized knowledge to maneuver, that it seems the greater this knowledge, the less room there will be for a true understanding of human affairs, not to mention human solutions.  A result is that rampant immorality and injustice are permitted to reign without regard to human and societal casualty—the kind that any scholar official or tribal member would have long recognized as antithetical to the purpose of government.
Instead, our system allows us to deny almost any problem, some of terrifying proportions: global climate change, destruction of the planet, erosion of democracy, depletion of social safety nets, plunder of the poor, and illegal wars, to name just a few.  We are told that the source of our problems is complex and mysterious, and the solutions beyond the reach of an average citizen.  Meanwhile, we are the ones tightening our belts in a nation that possesses half the world’s wealth, and we on the ground are the ones to feel, at a visceral level, the consequences of decisions that we did not make.
If Plato called for philosophers to become rulers for global decision-making to carry thoughtfulness, we might call upon practitioners of creativity for ethical bearing.  While education empowers populations by alerting them to ways in which oppression can occur, the arts do so by centering the heart such that one will refuse to accept injustice or untruth (the role of aesthetics in ethics is not new[1]).  

"....what education achieves cognitively, art does emotionally—and with most problems facing us now originating in humans, we see that we are in great need of collective emotional healing.  In this context, it does not help that we marginalize artists from “Bohemia” to misery—a distant cry from the position of scholar official—for the suffering of artists often foreshadows the suffering of a whole civilization."
Thus, in developing a proper perspective for global ethics, those in the creative fields may have a crucial role to play.  Few professions take on the highest and ultimate of human expression and are sensitive to any curtailing of human thriving (Henry James, for instance, suffered with a prescience of the Second World War while everyone was rejoicing the end of the First and politicians were emitting sighs of relief).  Their sensitivity can become a guide for ethical global governance.  Adherence to basic principles, for example, is how artists maintain coherence in their work, unlike scientists, who take a more methodological approach of fragmenting the whole so that the parts can be scrutinized more carefully (which are then added together to reconstruct the whole; science and other fields, at their best, can be an art, as is Einstein’s physics or Osler’s medicine).  A more artistic approach fosters the development of judgment and wisdom, by staying close to the human experience and keeping sight of the whole—and readily varying method according to overall need.
The artistic approach, then, might lead to the recognition of principles over rules, like the African governing circles that brought no concrete formula other than to answer a specific question.  Amid changing conditions, keeping with original purpose can allow us not to lose sight of the basic principles that every healthy society seeks (and which keep societies healthy): harmony, equity, justice, and peace.  We might then work toward true prosperity rather than an ideology of Capitalism or global domination.  We might actually solve problems and not let rules and procedure trump purpose, which then require a heaping of more laws and regulations upon them to try to correct, with ineffectual results.  Retaining a firm vision, far from being impractical, can facilitate expedient and ethical governance.  Restoring artists and creative individuals to a role in global governance, far from being unthinkable, may bring back the human sensitivity that was emblematic of the scholar officials and might perhaps be a step toward restoring our society into a higher, healthier civilization.
Bandy X. Lee, MD, MDiv
Assistant Clinical Professor
Law and Psychiatry Division
Yale University

We thank Dr. Lee for this important contribution to our IJCAIP blog, "Arts Crossing Borders".  Dr. Bandy Lee is a violence studies specialist.  She trained as a psychiatrist at Yale and Harvard Universities and focused on public-sector work as chief resident and was active in  anthropological research in East Africa as a fellow of the National Institute of Mental Health.  In addition, she worked in several maximum-security prisons throughout the United States, consulted with governments in Ireland and France, and helped to set up violence prevention programs both in the U.S. and abroad.  She is currently Assistant Clinical Professor, Law and Psychiatry Division, Yale University and teaches students representing political asylum seekers through Yale Law School.  She also served as Director of Research for the Center for the Study of Violence, as consultant to the World Health Organization, and as speaker to the World Economic Forum.  Her interests are in public health approaches and transdisciplinary research/discourse, and she organizes an annual colloquium series called
'Making Sense,' to bring together the arts, the sciences, and the practical disciplines.


[1] Cf. Scarry, Elaine. On Beauty and Being Just.  Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999.