Today I’m grateful for the artists. The writers, poets, singers, musicians, dancers, actors, filmmakers, photographers, painters, sculptors, potters, weavers, architects, and craftsmen whose art is the axis on which this world turns.

Without artists, we would have no understanding of cultures long gone. It is their pottery, cave paintings, and temples which we study to learn who they were. It is their stories and songs, passed on for generations, which reveal their beliefs and values.

People do not line up outside of banks to stare at piles of money or outside of most factories to watch products being built. But they do line up outside of The Louvre in Paris to see the great works of art. They do line up to purchase concert tickets for their favorite bands. Our minds, bodies, and egos need material goods, but our souls need art.

And when dictators, tyrants, or terrorists seek power, it is the art they try first to destroy. Why? Because art unites us, and tyrants wish to divide us.

Not a single day will go by in your lifetime when art will not affect you. Not one day will pass when you don’t read a book, watch a movie, listen to music, walk past a picture hanging on a wall, hum a song, tell a story, snap a photo, or say a prayer that someone once wrote.

Artists are mirrors. They reflect humanity back to itself. They ask, “What do you see?” And we answer. Sometimes we like what we see, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we celebrate it, and sometimes we vow to change it.

Artists teach us how to overcome adversity, how to work through pain, how to open our minds, how to heal, and how to love. They speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. They speak for those who are being ignored. They speak for those who don’t realize they have something to say. And sometimes they just speak for themselves.

We are all artists. And what you create today will last. Long after the dictators have been overthrown and the empires have crumbled and the civilizations have fallen or evolved, your art will live on. For a few, it will hang in a beloved gallery, for many, it will sit on a great-granddaughter’s shelf, for some, it will be covered by the earth, but like a beacon, it will call to future generations who will seek to understand.

Today, be grateful for your art. Today, create!