We posed the following question to each of the gubernatorial candidates:
Public humanities programs use disciplines such as history, literature, and philosophy as tools to explore and examine our history, values, culture, and beliefs. They provide opportunities for people to come together and examine the consequences of past decisions, clarify individual and collective values, and see situations and ideas from another’s perspective. What issues or problems do you believe the humanities can help address in New Jersey?
We received one response from Gubernatorial Candidate Phil Murphy. His response –
I am running for governor to build a stronger and fairer economy for every New Jersey family. The humanities are essential for achieving this goal, because the humanities let us build empathy and create narratives.
New Jersey, as Walt Whitman might say, “contains multitudes.” We are lucky to be one of the most diverse states, but we need empathy to make sure every voice is included. The humanities give us access to history and culture from multiple perspectives. They push us to embrace diversity rather than fear the unknown. Our state’s leading authors–including Judy Blume, Junot Diaz, Toni Morrison, and Philip Roth–represent this power. Unfortunately we now know what happens when leaders neglect the humanities. Governor Christie–a self-promoting bully–and President Trump–a tribal-minded narcissist–demonstrate how deficient empathy leaves us weak, afraid, and alone.
The humanities are needed as well to understand our personal stories and our place in time. My story–growing up working-poor, putting myself through college, and selling textbooks before leading a global business–is a tale of effort and opportunity. I want every child in New Jersey to have access to a similar story. I also know we must change the narrative of New Jersey itself. Today our state’s growth is profoundly unfair and flat as a pancake. We can rely on the humanities to increase our understanding of the state’s history and our residents’ values. This knowledge will help us redirect New Jersey towards a better future.
This November, we have a chance to turn the page. The humanities are essential to making sure we know ourselves and where we want to go. That inclusiveness and forward-thinking will be fundamental to my time in office.
– Phil Murphy
Any other gubernatorial candidate responses received before the election will be posted in our news section on njhumanities.org.