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.
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.
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?
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?