Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Here's What Creativity Does

In my Summer 2010 newsletter (read it here), I address a recent pronouncement that American creativity is waning. As someone who holds creativity sacred and considers it infinitely closer to godliness than cleanliness will ever be, this is sad and scary news.

How do we fix this sad place we've come to be--a place where multiple generations have been raised without knowing the dignity of meaningful work, the pride of owning a home, or a stable family environment that provides the love, discipline, and encouragement essential for adult independence and success? And as this recession stretches on, once-stable middle class families are now trying to keep their heads above water as the tide of job layoffs, rising tuition, exploitive media, $5 a gallon milk and eroding ethical standards threatens to suffocate the American dream once and for all.

If ever we needed creative minds, it is now. And so it is with much pleasure that I point you to a story about two young women who have come up with an invention that may revolutionize health care in underdeveloped countries. What a perfect example of why corporations and Washington decision-makers should make rewarding ingenuity a major line item in their budgets! Why aren't automakers working with colleges and universities to offer a million dollar prize to the student who comes up with the best alternative fuel vehicle? Why doesn't the FDA sponsor an annual contest to encourage innovation in food packaging or crop management? Every time I sit at a red light watching a hundred cars idling while not a single car passes in the cross street, I think surely technology that can let us launch bombs in Afghanistan from a building in Nevada can make our traffic lights traffic-responsive. Somewhere out there is a young mind capable of solving this problem; I just hope its owner got breakfast this morning.

So, tell me: what do we need to do to prevent America from losing its creative edge? How do we foster a more encouraging environment for our children in these turbulent times?

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt.