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There are moments. Snippets. Snapshots of my life when I feel the pressure ease.

It isn't easy to be a human any more. I know what you might be thinking. I may not have been easy to be a human when they were living in caves either. And you would be right, in fairness. It just seems particularly difficult to be a human right now.

To live in the middle of a chaotic world. To be a member of a society that tears itself and the world apart for no other reason than because they can. The anger. The hurt. The sickness. The death.

And yes, there was probably a time when it was harder to be a human than it is right now but consider the possibility that though the world has been scarier before, the fear has never been so accessible to us before.

The danger may have been greater, but there was always a chance, ever so slim, that without the countless ways to get information, you might be able to avoid it.

I can't avoid it. We can't avoid it.

But there are moments. Snippets. Snapshots of my life when I feel the pressure ease.

They come when I am walking to work and I laugh, out loud, when listening to a podcast.

They come when I am sitting in the car, listening to the radio.

They come when I am reading to my nieces or nephew.

They come when I am doing free Yoga on YouTube.

They come when I am teaching and connecting with other writers.

The answer to why the arts matter is a huge and obvious one. But its importance is clearest to me, not through the millions that are given to artists in terms of funding, not in huge sold-out concerts, or thousands of bestselling books, or awards. It isn’t from presidents quoting Irish poets or, heaven forbid, Bono.

The answer to why the arts matter come in those moments. So fleeting, so quick, I barely notice them. Single pieces of a large and complicated puzzle still being constructed. Because though the fears and injustice and pain of the world has never been more accessible to us, the arts have never been more accessible to us either.

It can be difficult for people who aren’t artists to grasp the sweeping concept of The Arts. It can be hard to see their necessity and value when we are struggling to pay bills, crippled by fear and stress, and consumed by the day-to-day grind of surviving.

My call to arms for the arts is not a huge declaration and demand for its survival and funding. It is to implore people to focus on the day-to-day ways the arts impact their lives without them even noticing. It’s to ask them to focus on those fleeting moments and wonder what their lives would look like if those moments were gone.

Imagine, just for a moment, a world without the arts.

Gráinne O'Brien


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