News Flash: A Politician Helped Others

Fulbright Statue

Photo by Matt Peoples — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

If you want the perks of power — go into politics. If you want the action of achievement — go into the arts.

Politicians talk about their devotion to helping people, but time and again they prove that their most important issue is to help themselves — to stay in power. Quick: name a politician. Now, try to convince us that they didn’t do everything they could to stay in office.

In the United States, politicians often refer to the financial sacrifice they make to serve the nation — even if the members of congress earn more than 90% of their constituents. Remember the Politburo? Not exactly a group who offered to serve for a bit and then go back to the communal farm — by choice. (When they left, many bought the farm, as it were.)

While political systems may be different from one country to another, politicians are remarkably the same: their main goal is to attain and maintain power.

All the more reason to remember a politician who broke the mold. As posted in our Fest News feed on festivals, arts and culture in a story from The Australian this week, the widow of Senator J. William Fulbright has continued his mission to genuinely help others, and to sustain the world’s arts and culture.

In reaction to the United States’ use of atomic bombs, Senator Fulbright wanted to ensure that another world war would never take place. His brilliant idea was to combine the funds from selling surplus war property with a program that would promote international good will through the educational and cultural exchange of artists, academics, and future government officials.

The Fulbright Program’s calling card was written by the Senator himself:

The Fulbright Program aims to bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs, and thereby to increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship.

The program has now helped more than 250,000 participants from 140 countries exchange ideas and opportunities, and contribute to the world’s political, economic, and most definitely, cultural institutions.

Unlike politicians and politics, artists and arts institutions have a record of authentic accomplishment, an honest commitment to helping their communities understand the world we live in, and inspire ways to make each other, if not the world, better.

When a politico puts a cause ahead of him or herself, we should be sure to send a thank you note.

Thank you Senator and Mrs. Fulbright!

- Bill Reichblum

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