Navigating the Chaos: The Arts in a World That’s Lost Its Mind

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The Arts in a World That’s Lost its Mind

To many, it can seem like our world has lost its mind. Our current and past ways of making sense of the world are proving ineffective to meet the increasing pace and complexity of life. Many of us used to make sense of the world and our place within it through the lens of religion, national or ethnic identity, political ideology, or the promise of technological progress. However, more and more of us are waking up to the realization that these lenses, in their current forms, are no longer adequate to save us from ecological destruction, social and financial inequality, or the rise of authoritarianism. In fact, these very lenses often seem to be the source of the problems we now face and which they purport to address! Where else are we to turn for answers?

It turns out that artists can play a crucial role in societal sanity and healing. Although the practical value of the arts is often questioned in a world that seems to be governed by cold, impersonal forces like money, technology, and power, the sensitivity, creativity, and transformative power many artists carry may be the only thing that can reach across divides and inspire humanity to create a more harmonious world. 

To embody this role, we, as artists, must first undergo a transformation in how we make sense of the world, the story we live by. When we create from an outdated story, our creations will only work to further the insanity that story engenders. The answer is to discover a new story, one that allows for greater sanity and healing. When we create from this new story, our creations, however humble, will work to further that new story. The good news is that doing so is the key to both the creation of the greatest, most transformative art, as well as the most empowered role we can inhabit in our quest for societal sanity and healing.

Our first step is to better understand the root cause of the chaos in our world.

Chaos & Insanity

Ask yourself: what is the common thread amongst all of humanity’s chronic challenges? What ties together ecological destruction, social and financial inequality, authoritarianism, famine, war, the diseases of modernity, and our broken education system, among countless other issues?

It is that the story they inhabit ignores certain truths. If we could see the deeper truth that the Earth is our larger body, could we pollute it? If we could see the deeper truth that all humans are our larger family, could we wage war? If we could see the deeper truth that our bodies are sacred, could we treat them so poorly?

No. If we saw these deeper truths, we could solve these and other problems almost immediately. Thus, the true definition of insanity, in the words of author Charles Eisenstein, is to ignore anything that’s true.

When we ignore certain important data points, our actions cannot help but become a force for insanity. As a result, we become lost in an endless game of whack-a-mole in which we are constantly stamping out the symptoms, rather than getting to the hidden root cause.

The answer is a move towards sanity, which can be defined as the ability to take account of anything that’s true – however inconvenient that truth may be. For example, when we address the feeling of isolation that drives our addictions, we no longer need to manage the otherwise unending symptoms of our hangovers and broken relationships, since what was driving those symptoms was the attempt to escape that underlying feeling. Relief from these symptoms is only made possible by fully facing that feeling, however unsavory that task may at first seem. In a sense, all of humanity’s current crises are an addiction and thus can be resolved by discovering whatever truth is now being ignored.

Arts as Microcosm of Society

In an echo of the Hermetic principle, “as above, so below,” the arts world is a microcosm of our society at large. The very same forces of insanity that plague our society find unique form in the lives of artists and within arts institutions. What truths are we hiding from or ignoring?

Many artists have a secret fear that our art doesn’t really matter, a fear which hides the truth that the universe is alive and that the very purpose of the arts is to help us participate in that aliveness. We suffer from repetitive strain and other injuries, which result from ignoring the truth that our bodies are beings to be honored, not machines compelled to do our bidding. We also suffer from self-doubt, creative blocks, and burnout, which are all the result of ignoring the truth that our creative souls are gifts to be celebrated and nurtured, not commodities whose value is to be extracted in service of money, fame, or academic accolades.

The examples above are just the tip of the iceberg. The forces of insanity now pervade almost all areas of the arts, from how we practice, create, perform, teach, and make a living. Examine any of your current artistic challenges and you will find, at their root, some form of insanity.

However, not all is lost. If the problems of society are to be found in the arts, so too are its solutions. What form might these solutions take?

Sanity & Soulforce

The solution to each of the artistic challenges listed above is to be found in taking account of those truths that were previously hidden.

For example, artists’ common financial difficulties can be resolved by remembering that the arts play a crucial function in society: to meet our needs for inspiration, healing, and connection. Because these needs are otherwise being so poorly met (hence the rise of the diseases of despair), there actually exists an incredible business opportunity to be found in better meeting such needs.

Likewise, performance anxiety and impostor syndrome can be resolved by remembering that your creative soul does not belong to your individual ego and its messages of unworthiness, but to life itself; when you remember that the impulses that guide your creativity are the result of nearly four billion years of evolution, you can rest assured that that your creations are worthy of love and respect. Similar truths are to be found for all our creative challenges.

“When we take account of the important, if hidden, truths underneath our suffering, we gain access to our Soulforce, the transformative creative energy that resides in all of us and which characterizes all of the greatest art.”


Here’s the amazing thing: when we take account of the important, if hidden, truths underneath our suffering, we gain access to our Soulforce, the transformative creative energy that resides in all of us and which characterizes all of the greatest art. It’s as though insanity is like a kink in the hose of our creative energy. Release the kink, and our Soulforce suddenly shines through, allowing for both the creation of the greatest art and for our most powerful societal impact.

Our Crucial Role – Is it Enough?

Here, then, is the crucial role we, as artists, can play in creating a more sane and harmonious world. When we step into sanity in ourselves, our art becomes suffused with our Soulforce, and then our art becomes a beacon for the energy and message of sanity, healing, and harmony.

But is this enough? Can art really make enough of a difference? With the hour so late and the forces of destruction so great, is it truly possible that our music, theater, or poetry could tip the scales in the right direction?

From within our society’s current ways of thinking, the answer would seem to be “no.” We believe, at a gut level, that big changes require big efforts and lots of resources. However, it is this very kind of thinking that underlies the problems we face, both in the arts world and at large. It is also deeply disempowering to all who don’t currently possess vast money, power, and status.

The answer is, again, to examine what truths might be hidden underneath our current, disempowering ways of thinking. In this case, it’s that, given the inherent interconnectedness of our world, small acts often have outsized results. Following the same line of thinking as the ”butterfly effect,” when we’re at the right place at the right time, even the smallest action can have untold consequences.

The truth of our interconnectedness reveals art’s vast potential for change. After all, art created with Soulforce acts to illuminate the deeper truths that connect us all, and thereby may be the one thing that can reach beyond our current religious and political divides.


The answers to all our challenges, whether artistic or otherwise, are already here. They silently lie in wait underneath the chaos that otherwise dominates our attention. We, as artists, can return to our rightful role as societal healers and sanity-makers by discovering those answers in ourselves and allowing the creative energy thus released to guide our artistic life. 

Learn more about how to discover these answers through the Soulforce Arts Institute. Pick up your free copy of the Soulforce Arts Starter Kit, join our Soulforce Arts Community, and check out my book, “Soulforce: How to discover your artistic purpose, create more freely, and make art that matters.”

In subsequent posts, we will continue our journey with more posts on the true purpose of the arts. Stay tuned as we explore the many facets of the soul of artistic expression.


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