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What does artlife have to do with the refugee crisis?

The real task of art is to create a new, a meta-reality, combining the world as received with the life of the mind…How can we loose the hold ordinary living has upon us so that we may begin to open up to the possibility of a larger, a new, an unknown universe?

– Peter London, No More Second Hand Art

Europe has been being altered for decades by ongoing influxes of migrants. Think Algerians emigrating to France. Think people from all over the world, including large numbers from the Indian subcontinent, emigrating to Britain. Think people from poorer European Union nations moving to its richer nations.

Europe is now about to be a whole lot more fundamentally changed by the huge waves of refugees fleeing conflict, violence and persecution in the middle east, Africa, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

I’m European by birth and upbringing. I emigrated to the US 30 years ago for non-political reasons. So I know and love Europe as it was, a continent of thousand-year-old histories and cultures; diverse languages, arts and cuisines; magnificent architecture; exquisite land and scenery.

Reading about the unfolding refugee crisis, I see that Europe as a whole is being asked - indeed compelled - to let go of insisting that its future be continuous with its past. A discontinuous leap is underway that requires letting go of insularity and cultural cohesiveness, of inherent privileges not shared by the 60 million world citizens currently fleeing their own countries because they simply cannot live there any longer.

What on earth does artlife have to do with this?

Artlife is most of all about living our lives creatively.

Our personal lives, sure - but also our collective lives shaped by pan-national political forces.

And our lives shaped by the soul’s longing for radically new, more life-affirming ways of being Human.

But, and: 60 million of the 7,364,719,000 people currently alive today (9/4/15) are currently displaced by wars, political repression and dire economic conditions. As individuals, how can we possibly open to seeking and generating authentic creative responses to what is no less than a global emergency? Are we willing to grow beyond “me first” mentality to truly become global citizens of fundamentally new times?

Artlife invites us to take bold, discontinuous leaps into becoming more of who we came here to be. Might opening our hearts to refugees everywhere be intrinsic to creating a larger, a new, an as yet unknown universe, as Peter London puts it?

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