Creating Our Futures


British education expert, Ken Robinson describes creativity as,

The process of having original ideas that have value.

We have come to confuse creativity with artiness and as a result we have come to believe that only some people are creative.

It is widely agreed that divergent thinking – i.e. the type of thinking that results in the generation of multiple answers to any problem – is creative thinking and then…

In a longitudinal study of 1,500 people, 98% of one group performed at genius level in divergent thinking.

Who were this marvellous and exciting group?

Children under 8 years of age.

Not special children under eight, or artistic children under eight but ordinary children under eight.

The other 2% were probably pretty good but not quite genius level.

Sadly, this same study also showed that this capacity for creativity declined steadily as these children – retested every five years – got older.

So, that means that 98% of us start off as creative geniuses.

We sorely need creative geniuses to help us solve all the problems we face.

So, OK then, how can we get back in touch with our own ‘genius’ so that we can not only better realise our personal potential but also apply our creativity to the needs of humanity?

And how can we stop today’s under eights – and the under eights of the future – from losing their natural born creative genius?

The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas. – Linus Pauling

Keep the postcards coming…

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Photograph – Christmas party at works, 18/12/1937 / by Sam Hood. Taken at Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia), Ashfield, N.S.W.  Find more detailed information about this photograph: acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/item/itemDetailPaged.aspx?itemID=21102

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The Women of Rosenstrasse


Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Russian writer and Nob...

We have become so result oriented that we have moved away from doing what we believe is right towards doing only what we believe will succeed.

This move has defined us by our successes and failures rather than our actions. Hence a moral action that doesn’t result in a ‘successful’ outcome is seen as a waste of time. Meanwhile, an amoral – or even immoral – action that brings about a desired result is seen as not only more practical but also better in every way.

This approach has very serious consequences, because the choice between good and evil is ours.  Individually.

As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put it:

Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart – and through all human hearts. (1)

Butterfly Effect Actions for Change – Part 7:
The Women of Rosenstrasse 
On February 27, 1943, the ‘Final Roundup’, took place in Berlin. This operation involved arresting the Jewish husbands of Aryan German women and their Mischling (mixed ancestry) children.  Within hours of the arrests, 150 women had gathered on Rosenstrasse where the Jewish prisoners were being held.
By the second day, 600 women were gathered outside, holding hands, singing and chanting, ‘Let our husbands go.’
On day three, the SS were ordered to fire warning shots into the crowd – which they did several times.  Every time the soldiers fired the women scattered and hid in the surrounding alleyways and then regrouped.

“The SS trained machine guns on us: ‘If you don’t go now, we’ll shoot.’ But by now we couldn’t care less. We screamed ‘you murderers!’ and everything else. We bellowed. We thought that now, at last, we would be shot. Behind the machine guns a man shouted something – maybe he gave a command. I didn’t hear it, it was drowned out. But then they cleared out and the only sound was silence. That was the day it was so cold that the tears froze on my face.” (2)
The soldiers couldn’t be seen to mow down the flower of Aryan womanhood so the firing stopped.
Now the women were joined by others – men and women unrelated to the prisoners – and the crowd swelled to over a thousand.
On March 7th, Goebbels let the prisoners go – even 35 men who had been sent to Auschwitz were brought back to Berlin.

The women of Rosenstrasse got their husbands and children back but their courage actually achieved more than that –

…the Rosenstrasse women had forced the Nazis to make a choice: They could accede to a limited demand and pay a finite cost – 1,700 prisoners set free, if all the intermarried Jewish men were released. Or they could open a Pandora’s box of heightened protest… For the Nazis, maintaining social control was more important than making sure every last Jew made it to the gas chambers…

The protest confronted Nazis officials with an unresolved question: what to do with other intermarried Jews….On May 21 Himmler’s deputy released them all, everywhere, from the camps. (3) 

I’m sure the women of Rosenstrasse didn’t think they’d succeed when they took to the streets demanding that their husbands be released.  I’m even more sure they didn’t think other women’s husbands would be released.

But they still acted – with great courage – and did what they believed was the right thing to do, with no regard to the outcome.

Even if they had failed in their objective, their actions would still be brave and praiseworthy.

If they had stopped to consider their chances of success – they probably wouldn’t have even tried.

Makes you think… 


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Photograph – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – on a train in Vladivostock as he returned to Russia in 1994 for the first time in twenty years.

(1) —  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956

(2) – Nathan StoltzfusResistance of the Heart: Intermarriage and the Rosenstrasse Protest in Nazi Germany. Rutgers University Press, 2001

(3) http://www.aforcemorepowerful.org/book/excerpts/denmark.php

(4) In 1995, a memorial created by Ingeborg Hunzinger, an East German sculptor, was erected in the nearby park (which was ironically the site of a former synagogue). The memorial, named “Block der Frauen (Block of Women)” reads The strength of civil disobedience, the vigor of love overcomes the violence of dictatorship; Give us our men back; Women were standing here, defeating death; Jewish men were free.

The Banality of Heroism


Philip Zimbardo, the psychiatrist in charge of the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment has a new venture – he’s studying the components of heroism.  Zimbardo and his associates believe that instead of looking at heroes as the exception, we should create an idea of heroism as banal and commonplace.  They believe that we will all have occasion in our lives to make heroic decisions and if we see heroism as a universal attribute of human nature, we are more likely to do the right thing, even when we are under pressure and afraid.

Zimbardo et al believe that this reconfiguring of heroism as a commonplace attribute can guide our behaviour in moments of moral uncertainty.

There are a number of steps that Philip Zimbardo believes will help us to foster ‘the heroic imagination’ we need to progress in this regard.

  • We can start by remaining mindful,carefully and critically evaluating each situation we encounter so that we don’t gloss over an emergency requiring our action. We should try to develop our “discontinuity detector” — an awareness of things that don’t fit, are out of place, or don’t make sense in a setting. This means asking questions to get the information we need to take responsible action. 
  • Second, it is important not to fear interpersonal conflict, and to develop the personal hardiness necessary to stand firm for principles we cherish.  
  • Third, we must remain aware of an extended time-horizon, not just the present moment…In addition, we should keep part of our minds on the past, as that may help us recall values and teachings instilled in us long ago, which may inform our actions in the current situation. 
  • Fourth, we have to resist the urge to rationalize inaction and to develop justifications that recast evil deeds as acceptable means to supposedly righteous ends. Finally, we must try to transcend anticipating negative consequence associated with some forms of heroism, such as being socially ostracized. If our course is just,we must trust that others will eventually recognize the value of our heroic actions.(1)

Butterfly Effects for Change – Part 5 – Hero in ‘Train’ing?

 
 
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http://heroicimagination.org/ 
http://www.lucifereffect.com/articles/heroism.pdf 
 (1) The Banality of Heroism - Greater Good Magazine - Fall / Winter 2006-07