Friday, July 8, 2016

A Place for All Types

It was in an undergraduate Roman history course that I developed a sense of where we are as human beings and gained some perspective of how far we have to go. That historical perspective has helped me cope, somewhat, when events around the world unfold because of ignorance, hatred, and violence. As a student of history, I know that even after 6,000 years of civilization, we still have a long way to go to being the peaceful, rational and kind human beings that many aspire to be. We have been though trials before - and will again. But I trust in our ability to let rational thought and an ounce of human kindness rule out in the end as it has, more often than not, in the past.

My perspective - my ability to remain analytical and to let reason prevail, however, has been sorely tested in recent weeks. This week's news of more senseless deaths has nearly crushed me.

But I still have hope.

And that hope comes from the work I do. For you see, at the museum, we celebrate the contributions that the printing press - and those who have used the press - have made to the advancement of civilization, literacy, and, most of all, freedom around the world. These words - "civilization," "literacy," "freedom," which are part of our mission statement, are big - or "lofty," as I've heard from some. I used to think so, too. I thought we needed a simpler, more grounded mission. But, perhaps, what we need right now are big, lofty words around which we can have honest and open conversations about their meaning for all people. And I mean ALL.

"A Place for All Types" is our advertising tagline. It is meant to catch people's attention and engage them in learning more about us. It is more than that, though. It truly captures what we aspire to be at The Printing Museum. For the past few years, we have been working to create a community for people who support our mission and believe in preserving and promoting the art and craft of printing. We want to be that place where people of all races, creeds, orientations, and beliefs can come together to learn about time-tested tools that have enabled - and can continue to enable - thousands to communicate powerful ideas and images. We also want to be that place, as our museum colleagues around the world are encouraging, where our community can safely exchange and debate ideas. Where analysis reigns over sound bites. Where peer review replaces deep-seated, narrow assumptions. Where disagreements can sit comfortably across the aisle with understanding.

At the moment, we're not able to welcome the community into our "place," but it is my guarantee  that once the presses are rolling again, more than ever, our doors will be open to everyone who wants to join us in continuing to expand our notions of civilization, literacy and freedom through the power of the printing press.

Please take care of yourselves and each other.

Until next time...