Busy, purposeful, efficient, enterprising — these are words of excellence and worth in American culture.
When you think about it, the U.S. doesn’t actually have a culture, unless you consider going to work, thinking about ways to get rich, spending money, and losing ourselves in TV, movies, and social media a hallmark of culture.
The imaginary Christian heritage many ascribe to this nation (which Kevin M. Cruse excellently discusses in his book One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America) adds to our enslavement to work, money, and commerce. Too many people who consider themselves Christians quote Proverbs (“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied” — Proverbs 13:4) than they do Jesus (“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” — Matthew 5:5).
If you’re poor, they sniff, it’s because you deserve to be so. Nothing is said about many being poor because wages are low, so that corporate business profits remain high.
The result of this culture of ours is that we’re chronically busy, incessantly pushed to do more with promise that we will somehow be more: richer, smarter, faster, more powerful — virtues of the modern business world.
The artwork, Summer Breeze, encourages us to step out of this mindset into a place of quiet, reflection, imagination, and freedom. A young boy — unbound from the confines of the schoolroom — walks with a kite in the breeze. (Think of it — he’s not even flying the kite, and isn’t that the purpose, the very reason of existence for the kite? So thinks the person shackled by U.S. cultural norms.)
Perhaps he sees himself as a sailing ship, his kite the sails. Maybe he’s a bird, high in the air. Or maybe . . . he’s just feeling the tug of the kite against the wind and glorying in the strength of his arms, holding on.
It matters not. He is alone, free with his thoughts, away from schedules and tasks, obligations and lessons, goals and duties. In doing nothing, he has time to think, and in thinking, he is doing much indeed.
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