We regularly have children round at our house, hanging out, colouring, playing with the baby’s toys, doing homework. We get to see the children’s imagination flourish as they build towers with Jenga blocks (before they are destroyed by our boy), turn books into guitars, and have adventures with a plastic dinosaur.
Unfortunately creativity is not appreciated or encouraged in their schools. One of our teenagers shared that her teacher had asked them to write about why the arts are not useful for getting a job. The education system here squashes the imagination of our young people. This, of course, is not limited to South African schools and we can see this across the world.
Sir Ken Robinson, an advocate for creativity in education, states that:
“Imagination is the source of every form of human achievement. And it’s the one thing that I believe we are systematically jeopardizing in the way we educate our children and ourselves.”
I recently listened to the New Activist Podcast with Andy Crouch where he discussed creativity as a sign that humans are free and flourishing, and how injustice and oppression limits and degrades it:
“Justice is the restoring of creative power to God’s image bearers, and in the process of restoring that power you are going to come up against the systems of violence and coercion that limit human beings’ God giving creativity and prevent them from creating in the way they were meant to.”
“In systems of injustice, human relationships distort, attenuate, and degrade human creativity instead of fostering it.”
Fostering creativity helps us to think outside the box. It encourages us to engage with the injustices in our world imaginatively and inventively. It allows humans to think freely and moves us forward in a positive direction. There is no limit to human creativity.
Our InnerCHANGE team in Soshanguve works with the principle of action-reflection. We allow each other to try something new, a new way to involve our neighbours, a new idea working towards justice. After trying it for a while we reflect on how it has gone, what are the positives and negatives, what could change. This process gives us freedom to be creative without the worry of being condemned.
However, for most of us, living creatively takes courage. Choosing to put yourself out there with new ideas and concepts leaves you open to critique and judgement. Fear can hold us back, fear of people, fear of failing.
“Your fear will always be triggered by your creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome, and fear hates uncertain outcome.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
As a community of humanity we need to encourage and support creativity. Together we can stop and prevent the injustices that hold people back. We need to allow people to share their thoughts through art, to breathe out in imaginative ways.
May we open up to originality and be courageously inspired to create something new ourselves. May we together experience a new depth to life as we look beyond our boxes.
“…artists help people see or hear beyond the immediate to the eternal. Most people only look at surfaces. A great poem, story, song, or sculpture reveals the hidden meaning of things.”
– Ian Cron, Chasing Francis