Your Secret Weapon Of Art

This is a speech given by Leonard Bernstein in 1970 at Tanglewood.

“It’s the artists of the world, the feelers and thinkers, who will ultimately save us, who can articulate, educate, defy, insist, sing and shout the big dreams. Only the artists can turn the “Not-Yet” into reality. All right, how do you do it? Like this: find out what you can do well, uniquely well – that’s what studying is for, to find out what you can do particularly well. You. Unique. And then do it for all you’re worth. And I don’t mean “Do your own thing,” in the hip sense. That’s passivity, that’s dropping out, that’s not doing anything. I’m talking about doing, which means (another old-fashioned phrase) serving your community, whether that community is a tiny town or six continents. And there’s no time to lose, which makes your position twice as difficult, because you’re caught in a paradox. You see, you’ve got to work fast, but not be in a hurry. You’ve got to be patient, but not passive. You’ve got to recognize the hope that exists in you, but not let impatience turn it into despair. Does that sound like double-talk? Well, it is, because the paradox exists. We’ll help you as much as we can – that’s why we’re here – but it is you who must produce it, with your new atomic minds, your flaming, angry hope, and your secret weapon of art.”


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