Cultures that persist encourage those who question and challenge nationalism, patriotism, and expose myths; they create an environment for experimentation and progress.
Artists, writers, poets, activists, journalists, philosophers, dancers, musicians, actors, directors and renegades mirror culture and serve as prophets. They invite us to confront unexamined assumptions, and reveal arrogance based on hubris. They alert us to a system created to maintain and perpetuate an ideology of continual growth, unending exploitation and endless expansion. They sound an alarm about the crippling effects of careerism and never ending search for happiness through accumulation of wealth.
They make us face our culture, from the genocidal slaughter of Native Americans, to the savage reality of slavery and Jim Crow, to the repression of working-class people, to the destruction of small business and small family farms, to the barbarism carried out in imperial wars, to the outrageous assault on the ecosystem.
They challenge us to question our virtue.
They expose the easy propaganda we use to describe the nation: the best medical care system, the finest education system, the land of the free, the greatest country on earth, the beacon of liberty and freedom, the right of one person/one vote.
They reveal our dark side of dumbing down of USA, of crimes and provincialism.
Members of this intellectual and artistic class offer the possibility of imagining possibilities for a healthier, more meaningful life and provide alternative expression.