“Creativity” by Tom Fair

According to major religious traditions, the original Creative Spirit (or Spirits) was (or were) some form of God (or gods). This entity, apparently got it all started with an immensely vast inspiration that created the heavens, the earth, the flora, fauna, and finally our ol’ buddy – Mankind. From there on out, as we hear it, the original Creator(s) went out to lunch, leaving the task of continuing the creation business to Us Truly. Only in cases of extreme universal mis-management do we hear of significant Divine Intervention.

Recorded history becomes more and more the legend of the Creations of Mankind. Yet here we are, sitting amidst the greatest volume of technological developments this earth has ever witnessed, and do we feel truly creative? The answer for most people would probably be a dull, flat “no.”

How can that be?

Why would so many people come to feel uncreative?

The answer to this is simple: most people have forgotten just what creativity is. They have come to the point where they operate automatically and take certain miracles for granted. A fellow comes in from shovelling the walk after a snowstorm, and reads in a magazine that someone has just built a computer to run an entire metropolitan transit system.

He sighs and thinks to himself that he doesn’t have the ability to compete with all that high-powered ingenuity. He feels a little smaller, a little less capable in a world that appears to be too competitive, too swift and too complicated to understand.

Yet, scant minutes before, he was creating away and never gave himself credit! He made a path appear where previously there was but a drift of white snow. What, you say – that’s not creativity; anyone can do that. I should hope so! Creativity rightfully belongs to everyone.

There are many people on earth today, however, who have forgotten age-old traditional skills such as hand-writing letters to friends, making bread at home, mending one’s own clothing. All such things require creativity, and they are equally as valid as molding space age plastic sculptures or shooting tin cans at the moon.

Creation, unfortunately has recently become something only specialists may do. The old picnic, in which everyone had a chance to be inventive, is being replaced by fast food joints and the chartered tour or cruise where all activity is determined by the cruise director. Singing songs was once a family affair in every home. It has become a rarity to hear families sing together – unless they are also television performers.

This is not meant to be a criticism of professional endeavors. Without professionals in creative fields, there would be no high standard toward which to aspire. But it is a request to refrain from the impulse to perceive the common man as a mere spectator in the world of the Arts – a creative peon forever indebted to the unfathomable “gift” of an aesthetic elite.

We are faced today with a Creativity Crisis. It’s not that everyone everywhere has abandoned everyday inventiveness; but that inventiveness has become endangered because those who still live by life’s common creative pleasures are not being well-enough applauded for their truly valuable state of awareness.

Painting the kids’ nursery, planting a rose garden, serving Sunday dinner for a dozen people – these creative actions are equally as important to life as the writing of a symphony. In many cases it is simple acts such as these that have inspired monumental works of Art.

Civilization is based upon interaction between people. When those people have had their most basic creative functions degraded to “so what?” and electronic gadgets become glorified to the heavens, we’ve entered upon an Age of Alienation, and mechanical responses.

This is directly the other direction down the freeway from the consistently fresh activity of a true civilization. Simple acts of creation in daily life must never be disregarded, but must be held in high esteem in order for civilization to survive. Every person must have an opportunity and the encouragement to use his imagination and the skill of his hands in participation with others.

We must never allow our societies to decline to the point at which only a handful are considered artists. Creativity, like the air and the earth, is the property of us all.

Copyright 1984, 2004 by Tom Fair. All Rights Reserved.