Critiquing by creating: what our world seems to have forgotten how to do

My creative compass rarely points to things that scare the snot out of me. I favor creating things that I sense will make someone smile, that will make an otherwise pedestrian mail day a bit brighter. I create safely. I rarely create to bend rules or write new ones.

But when I do, I recoil in fear that someone might come along and yank back the reins so that I’ll never get to create again. You make people uncomfortable with your creativity.
What was wrong with what we already had? This? This is too risky.

Over the past few months, though, I’ve been noodling around the idea of creating to critique. It’s a motto attributed to Michelangelo, who no doubt pondered creation with a capital C for a good fraction of his life. I can’t remember what dorkcast reminded me of the highest form of criticism, but I’ve been returning to it again and again. I wish the world would follow.

At its core, critique by creation aims to to either improve the existent model or invent something that never existed. Rather than simply evaluate the pros and cons of the unprofitable lemonade stand, critiquing by creation puts wheels on the lemonade stand and takes it on the road. We know this is not where the story ends, though. Because say the lemonade truck proves profitable. Then the critiquers will hover near. They will replicate. They may even rob. They want a squeeze of that lemon but rather than create their own mobile happiness, they are mired in their own jealousy which often leads to destruction.

Hot Dog Stand, West St. and North Moore, Manhattan.

The problem with history is that it holds plenty of shelf space for both the builders and the destroyers. It doesn’t discriminate between the worthy and the vile, nor should it because we need to learn the lessons we’re not meant to repeat.

If only those who critiqued through creation were more celebrated than those who destroyed.

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I cannot possibly fathom why I will spend the rest of my life getting choked up when I pass a baseball field and think of what plays Martin Richard might have designed. I cannot reason why Trayvon Martin doesn’t get to draft new flight patterns as a pilot. Tell me why the city of Cleveland will spend $6M appeasing the family of the late Tamir Rice instead of sending him to college where he could dream, grow, learn, create. Why are the video tools that are supposed to advance our creativity so often used–by necessity–to capture brutal, senseless slayings by police officers or terrorist organizations?

Millions March NYC

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The story of Creation that I know begins with a God who always was and always is, who creates from nothing a world meant to be shared and enjoyed by His other beloved creations.

We do not truly create in this life but cull from the resources we are given things shiny and pleasing. We fancy ourselves inventors but we are only simply trying to get back to the Edenic place we began, when all was alive and good. This is the choice we have each day. It is not a choice as to build a block tower or knock someone else’s over. We choose whether we will believe enough in a world that was meant to be life-giving for every man, plant, animal or whether we will be complicit in its destruction. What kind of critics will we be?

Silver Spring #ReclaimMLK Sit-In 17

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5 positive parts about America that the citizenship swearing in ceremony will make you realize

Loverpants got to pledge allegiance to the United States of ‘Merica last week, and the whole morning was just pretty keen. My hubs has his own immigration story to tell, but he and his family have endured a lot to call this place home. As for me, I just get to take the pictures and wave the star spangled banner. Here are a few things a swearing in ceremony will either highlight or reaffirm about this great nation:

1. The immigration process is still a careful one. From the biometrics to the interview to every piece of paperwork, the bureaucracy is boss. The process for letting the good guys and gals in is still pretty stinking thorough. I’m sure there are a hundred different ways to outsmart Uncle Sam, but his gates strive to be ironclad and the gatekeepers aim to be good flaggers of criminality.

Citizenship

2. Your new neighbors bring a ton of wealth to this country. So maybe they’ve been here 5, 10 years. They speak Yoruba, Farsi, Spanish. They celebrate high Hindu holidays. They braid hair and weave baskets and practice law and medicine like bosses. Maybe they are bosses. We just don’t always see them gathered all at once on a happy occasion in one room. The swearing-in ceremony will remind you of the riches of language, culture, religion, and racial diversity that the wave of recent immigrants represents. Total jackpot.

3. The Daughters of the American Revolution are still a thing. They make cookies and wave flags and celebrate citizenship at swearing-in ceremonies. Civic engagement for the win.

4. Hamilton the Musical is sold out indefinitely for a reason. The convergence of hip-hop with the brilliance of Lin-Manuel Miranda and colonial petticoats is all pretty cool. But so is our history as a young nation of zealous freedom seekers. It still resonates. I have to believe this is why Judge Susan Lee got all verklempt swearing in these new citizens last week. She says it’s her favorite thing to do.

Citizenship

5. There are now 50 more immigrants-turned-citizen in Chattanooga who will be eligible to vote in November, who likely are against building a wall along our border with Mexico, who don’t believe America needs to be made great again, since the best is surely yet to come 🙂

Citizenship

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Wishes

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Little Man: The other day when I made a wish on the wishbone, I wished that–
Baby Girl: DON’T SAY WHAT IT IS IT WON’T COME TRUE!
Little Man: It already came true.
Baby Girl: Oh. What was it?
Little Man: I wished that I would snuggle with Mama.
Baby Girl: But you snuggle every day with Mama?!

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Wishes are granted, prayers are answered; we look for stars colliding but often it’s the stardust settling into the cracks of our life that holds things together, that holds us in place to experience the good, the great, the snuggles under Blanket Mountain.
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