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From the Chairman
I often think about the question that faces each of us when we have views about issues that transcend our immediate realm of influence. The question, of course, is simply, “But what can I do?” Whether it’s a local, regional, statewide, national, or international issue, the frustration is often the same. It is difficult to know how we, as individuals, can influence the events of our day. One answer is to be sure that we vote. However, as important as exercising that privilege is, it only rolls around every couple of years and doesn’t always provide us with a feeling of direct connection to the issues we care most about. After all, despite this past November’s elections, among other things, immigration, education, and healthcare remain unanswered priorities of most Americans, and the war in Iraq wages on.
If we have the time or economic means, we may try to advance our agenda by supporting organizations consisting of like-minded individuals working for our desired outcome. Perhaps we’ll volunteer, give money, or attend a rally. But these actions, albeit tremendously important, are still likely to leave us feeling somewhat removed from the issues we care deeply about.
It was with these background thoughts—though they weren’t consciously in my mind at the time—that I recently attended a ceremony at which four Utahans were presented with our Governor’s Award for the Arts. I went anticipating the usual rubber chicken (which I was spared because they ran out!) and a fairly uneventful and unexciting evening. Through the first three presentations I wasn’t disappointed, but then I was taken completely by surprise.
The final award was presented to an artist from rural Utah—Kaziah Hancock. Perhaps you’ve heard of her. I had not, even though she’s been written about in the national press, and her story has been told on the “Today Show.” So who is Kaziah Hancock? As it turns out, she’s an artist commonly known as the “Goat Woman” because of her love for goats. More importantly, however, she’s an artist who feels passionately about this country and the men and women giving their lives to fight the Iraq war. She realized that an artist in Manti, Utah, was not going to end the war on her own. Instead, Kaziah asked herself that vexing question—But what can I do?—and in response she founded Project Compassion. Through this project, Kaziah has painted the portraits of over 200 fallen soldiers whom she has never met but whom she loves. In each case, she has delivered the portrait to the soldier’s family as her way of saying thank you and providing a perpetual lifeline to lost family members. I cannot convey how touched I was listening to her story.
I can’t paint, but Kaziah’s story has certainly taught me to think more broadly the next time I ask myself what I can do. I hope her story will do the same for you.
Chairman, ISC Board of Directors
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