Yesterday we considered Otto Rank’s teaching about the importance of solitude for creativity, for giving birth. Without it we don’t get in touch with our own depths and we fall into neurosis and a forgetfulness of who we are and how to share our gifts with the world. Rank was keen on understanding the artistic process and he himself felt that his life depended on “giving birth every day.” He wrote those words as a teen-ager after attempting suicide and surviving (he had been abused by a relative).
He took the teaching from Deuteronomy: “I put before you life and death: Choose life” and applied it this way: To choose life, he came to realize, was “to give birth every day.” Many of Rank’s clients were artists including Anaïs Nin and Henry Moore and more. It was his book, Art and Artist, that so captured the mind of Ernest Becker who built his Pulitzer-prize winning book Denial of Death on basic ideas from Rank’s understanding of creativity and our fear of death.
Out of the via negativa, which includes both our encounter with nothingness and our practice of solitude, is born creativity. And with it action for social transformation. An intimate connection exists between developing moral imagination and doing effective prophetic action.
Last week’s Climate Strike ,which we are told drew 4.5 million persons around the world, was led by Greta Thurnberg and children exiting schools to march. Many of them came with very creative signage, much of it paradoxical and humorous, that spoke from heart to hearts. This day of protest and of imagination bears witness to the truth of how the Via Creativa feeds the Via Transformativa.
I highly recommend this link to see some of these signs for yourself. They come from marches all over the planet, from Poland to Australia. from Malaysia to the United States, from Europe to Africa:
A few of the creative signs follow:
Act as if your house is on fire…because it is.
If you were smart, I’d be in school.
System change not Climate Change!
You know it’s time to change when leaders act like children and children act like leaders
The Earth is getting hotter than my imaginary boyfriend
There is no Planet B
You cannot eat money
Don’t be a Fossil Fool!
You’ll die of old age, I’ll die of climate change
It is moving and very real to see young people rising up to instruct adults about values that matter.
For Deeper Contemplation
Take a line from this essay—such as one of the climate change signs—and dwell on it. Chant it as a mantra if you wish. Where does it take you?
Create your own sign, employ a short and simple message.
Authors Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox encourage us to use our talents in service of compassion and justice and to move beyond our broken systems–economic, political, educational, and religious–discovering a spirituality that not only helps us to get along, but also encourages us to reevaluate our traditions, transforming them and in the process building a more sacred and just world. Incorporating the words of young activist leaders culled from interviews and surveys, the book provides a framework that is deliberately interfaith and speaks to our profound yearning for a life with spiritual purpose and for a better world.