Creativity is difficult area for discussion because it involves many myths and legends about its purpose, its origins, and its place in our world. It is a subject matter that is a dichotomy in that it elicits both tremendous awe and respect in as much as it is unvalued and trivialized. Companies are calling for more creative solutions yet our educational system busy removing it from access. Our institutions prize conformity yet our society demands individuality. This seems especially true within the Central Pennsylvania area. This area is highly conservative views and political leanings.
So with that kind of friction taking place, it is a scene of constant battle, hype, and misunderstanding by all involved. Their have been study upon studies all done on creativity by the economic sectors, religious institutions, governmental agencies, and academic centers. They are available for the asking but little is done with this mountain of data that virtually sits unused. Why?
A lot, I believe has to do with the way in which our society functions. You really have to take a look at what brought this all about. The major influence of our age has been the industrial revolution but not in the way that you may think. Yes it did make more products available to more people by being able to centralize means of production for easy replication. It made goods more affordable but at the same time it did something to how we see each other. It changed the psychology of how we see the individual – not as human beings, but as parts of a human machine. It took us from being individual craftsman and workers to being parts of a flesh colored assembly line. With that new perspective what were needed were parts that could be easily replaced and replicated not individuals who could think and make. Thinking was un-necessary on the production line. All you had to do was perform a desired task to produce a desired result. Thinking was not needed nor encouraged. Basic skills of reading, writing, and math were all that were required to track and report what you produced. Thought was not welcomed nor required. Regurgitation of production information was all that was required. We went from skilled craftsman who designed and made a complete product, to someone who placed a part on a product and performed a job – a task. These ideas are even present in farming which has become an agri-business and commodities producers.
If you look up the word job in the Webster’s Dictionary, it is not a very positive item. The origin of the word comes from the old English word that meant lump. A lump is not a noble beginning. A lump by definition is “1: a piece or mass of indefinite size and shape 2 a. aggregate, totality <taken in the lump> b: majority3: protuberance: an abnormal swelling 4: a person who is heavy and awkward ; also : one who is stupid or dull”. This is not a positive image to start with the origin for the word that we have become so focused on our future existence.
The definition of job doesn’t get much better but takes a distinctive nose dive into the abyss from there. The first is “a piece of work; especially: a small piece of work undertaken on order at a stated rate”. There is nothing to indicate that this is a creative effort. It is something that is simply done as is clarified in the second part of that first definition “the object or material on which is being done.”
This is not something that we would normally want (when given thought to) to aspire to, yet here it is. This is what we do. We go to our jobs everyday. Most of us do not go to work we go to a job. Work and job have become interchangeable.
When we went to work it was different. Even the definition is different: “1:activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something:a:sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or resultb:the labor, task, or duty that is one’s accustomed means of livelihoodc:a specific task, duty, function, or assignment often being a part or phase of some larger activity”. This shows the involvement of the total being – not only physically but mentally. A job is something to get done. It is the effect of some undefined effort to get an order done. It is the attitude of a machine. It is de-humanizing and places one into machine like status.
This eventually went from the factory floor, to the office complex and then into our educational systems. Thought was unnecessary, production and results had taken its place so that we could simply get it done. It is not what you know it is what you produce. It is not what you could apply it was what were the results. Grades went from being an indicator as to what you might possibly know to an indicator of how you could succeed in getting a job.
You can see it in the schools today were the individual is really not valued it is just the test scores that they produce. Teachers are not really allowed to educate but rather are required to teach to a standard that all must attain to be deemed competent to get a job. Teachers are required to teach to the test (as much as everyone says they do not – they do) so that the results can be measured and replicated to produce the desired results for the students to enter the work force. The direction of education is no longer to help the individual attain better understanding to improve the world in which they live. The direction of education is to check off a list of requirements that will produce some one with the ability to fill a position within a large organization for the purpose of producing goods – a job. It becomes just another thing to be done.
So creativity is not valued. It has a minor role in modern society as that society becomes more mechanized and industrialized. Now that we have gone beyond the industrial revolution we find ourselves in an age of information that those principles no longer hold value. Therefore you have large bloated mega-industrial corporations who no longer add value but consume it. They have become obstinate, refusing to change and watch as their world slowly crumbles in front of them. They moan the lack of creativity of the workers but foster a system that demands duplication, replication, and conformity. They are in fact the cause of their own demise. They have created a system of support that can not flex either in goods or in those responsible for the production of their goods – because it was not a part of their culture to do so – it is not their job to do so.
But if you look at the beginnings of their rise to mega-industrial giants – the very thing that fueled that incredulous growth – is the very thing that they do not value in their culture. They have confused the machine and tools of production with the means of the existence of those items. They have reduced man to machine rather than elevating the position of man above machine as its causation. They have reversed the roles. That is why these institutions buy innovation rather than make it – then make it conform to their production models. They not only crush the competition in doing so but they crush the very spirit of innovation that would have kept them alive.
Once you have reversed the roles you negate the very thing that makes all of humanity different from the other creatures of the earth; the ability to be creative. The ability to think, and reason beyond a herd mentality. Uniformity is the very antithesis of human existence which is by nature diverse.
What in fact does this all have to do with a belief in God? It is quite a lot in fact. The very basis of our formative conception of a god is that the god is in fact – creative. In that act of creativity, according to the Judeo Christian take on things, is a part of the image and likeness of God in whom we are supposedly made. Therefore as logic and definition would have it – we are in fact creative by very nature. The problem is that we do not see God as an active creative being in our world. We no longer see God because we have negated the creative image of God destroying our own creativity.
Continuing in that same path of logical reasoning would then be to say that to deny our creativity – or narrow it down – is to in fact deny God and deny our very nature. In as much God is love and we are then supposed to be love – God is creative and we are to be creative. That is if we truly believe in what our scriptures tell us to be true. To deny that is to say the scripture is therefore not true.
We have been given all the ability by the very divine nature within us to affect the world creatively in love for love. We are not to lord it over the world but in love become creative forces so that the very kingdom of God will be on earth exactly as it is in heaven. If this then is the case then Christians have an absolute obligation to be creative and imaginative. In the words of Francis A. Schaeffer used in the beginning of his collection of two eassays “Art and the Bible” – “The Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.” Unfortunately this is not what we find. This is the problem. Christians have abandoned creativity and imagination and in doing so have abandoned the driving force of the universe.
For now this is enough to ponder but it will not just stop here. We will examine this further. With the next installment, there will be links to sites and further information.