Slightly more than a month ago, the local newspaper, The Straits Times, published a poll in it’s Sunday edition of the news that invited a backlash from a segment of the public.

In case you can’t see the image, the artist was ranked by 71% of the respondents of the poll and one of the top five non-essential jobs.

I do not intend to dive in to comment on who is correct or wrong. To me, such views will likely require us to start tearing apart the semantics of the poll question and the context which it was crafted for. A million interpretations will probably divide rather than reconcile us.

However, what I do want to share was that, I was reminded of an old Chinese wisdom – 行行出状元. Translating it literally, a scholar in every trade. It was a reminder for people to be professional in whichever profession they are in.

What I want to discuss, is on the importance of an artist to a society.

A final disclaimer – please allow me to use the term “artist” a bit more loosely. It’s going to include people who are in the creative industry that can include musicians and dancers.

***

To me, artists play the role of a mental and emotional well-being guardian of the society. They make use of their ability to create and unique view points of the society to be our voice and express our thoughts and feelings.

These days, we commonly see them in the form of memes and parodies…

They may be creating to encourage everyone to come together…

They may be creating to champion for a cause they believed in…

What could have been difficult for the common people to talk about without being disapproved by the society, artists have helped to voice the unhappiness of the people in a palatable format that is hopefully, a bit more accepting in the society.

They may be creating to give us some hope and empower us to move on…

Artists do more than just entertain us. The greatest ones engage our hearts and speak for us. They are with us at every fight and struggle, the front liners of our psychological defense.

Artists play a damn important role in this society.