bztat

Mar 142016
 

change the world graffiti digital art by BZTAT

 

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world

“Revolution” – The Beatles  

 

 

There’s a lot of talk about revolution these days.

The political winds in the USA are turbulent. The desires of the American people are being shouted at high decibels, and the masses are being whipped into a frenzy by luminaries who spew forth big ideas. There is much hope, in some regards, and there is much fear as well. Change is exciting, but it is also messy, and it is scary.

We can look at history to recall successful revolutions, but recent history (Arab Spring, for example) reveals that revolutions without a well thought out plan for a subsequent evolution can have enormous unintended consequences. Furthermore, we do not need to go too far back in history for examples of charismatic leaders leading people over cliffs with their disingenuos promises of a grand vision.

We do need change in our world – and in our country. Big change. We need a revolution, and we need evolution, and we need both to rise up and meet the energy that demands it.

We need more than big ideas, though.

Donald Trump tells us that he wants to “make America great again”. All he has offered as a means for achieving this big idea, however, is childish insults and bullying, racist taunts, misogyny, a plan to build an impossible wall between our country and our neighbor Mexico, and vague claims that he would hire a team of business professionals (who we do not know) for leading the country.

Like unwitting sheep, large groups of people follow him and buy into his message of intolerance and hate. Some have gone as far as perpetrating violence against his detractors, following his thinly veiled suggestions from his podium pulpit.

Trump is exploiting his followers’ desire for change for his own insatiable need for adulation, and he is leading his flock down a dangerous path. That is not a revolution. That is demagoguery of the worst kind.

Trump’s “revolution” has been discounted by numerous journalists and authorities on all sides of the political spectrum. According to numerous scholars and experts, his revolution presents far too many risks to civil society to be given consideration for legitimacy. Trump’s revolution may be considered innovative by some who fancy his “outsider” status in the political landscape, but I fail to see it as anything but destructive.

The revolution led by Bernie Sanders, however, deserves more exploration.

Sanders takes a more genteel path than does Trump. There is no churlish bullying, race-baiting or misogyny in his “revolution”. His approach is more inspirational and less manipulative with the fears and prejudices of his followers. There are big ideas, however, and his big ideas are intoxicating.

A liberal soul’s dream, Sanders speaks power to progressive ideas that have captured idealists’  imaginations for decades. His ideas are not that new, but his audacious belief that our political system can be transformed so radically is unique to our present time.

The risks in Sanders’ revolution are less obvious, but they are there.

The problem with Sanders’ revolution is that he SPEAKS power, but he offers no clear path of ACTION. He excites us with his intoxicating ideas, but he does not illuminate a path for accomplishing them in any concrete way. As the New York Times Editorial Board points out, Sanders has been espousing his big ideas for 35 years in Congress, but he has not gotten any big things done. Why should we believe that he will be able to get big things done in 4 years as president, when he has little to show for his 35 years in Congress?

Sanders reminds me of artists I have known who talk at length about the masterpieces they have envisioned in their minds, but have never managed to articulate on canvas.

You must have a plan for implementation if you are imploring people to follow you in a path of radical change. Artists are required to provide plans for commissioned work, even if the work is experimental. Political revolutionaries should do the same for their constituents, as we are essentially “commissioning” them to perform creative works for us.

The owner of a building is not likely to allow an artist to paint a mural on the side of his structure unless the artist: 1) provides a sketch illustrating how the mural will look on the building; 2) provides a plan for managing obstacles and complicating factors in the environment; 3) demonstrates a history of accomplishment and mastery, and 4) provides a realistic budget and plan of action.

Why should we not expect a similar plan from creative thinkers who wish to radically change our world?

Unlike Trump, I believe that Sanders’ revolution has legitimacy, but it lacks structure, and it lacks depth. Regardless of whether you agree with his ideas (I acknowledge that I do have a liberal bias and find his ideas in line with my own), he has not clearly sketched out how his ideas would “look” in our present day world. He has not provided a plan for moving our current congress past its obstructionist ways, and he has been vague on how he would manage the polarization that exists in our current legislature.  His 35 years of no big actions in Congress does not lend credence to a belief that he can overcome complicating factors in the political environment that inevitably will stymie his revolution. He has provided a “broad stroke” budget, but it has been seriously called into question by leading economists.

Illuminating his vision by taking these things into consideration, would give more strength to Sanders’ revolution. Without it, he is likely leading his flock into disappointment and disillusion. It is not quite as dangerous as leading them off a cliff, but dangerous all the same.

Sanders would also be wise to reconsider whether the presidency is the best place from which to lead his flock. His campaign has given him a megaphone to spread his ideas, but governing requires more than oratory. Actual governing is vastly different from campaigning.

We have this fantasy that the presidency is a place of purity and ideal reach. It is not. It is a place where competing agendas and poor choices on all sides present themselves daily. Compromise and consensus building are essential to moving forward in the presidency, and sticking to lofty ideas gets lost in the shuffle. Martin Luther King, artists and other influential leaders have led from places where their ideals can grow creatively and can last beyond the daily slog of presidential minutia. Perhaps Sanders’ revolution would gain better traction from a place were it can rise above the fray of governance.

Changing the world requires creative thinking and innovative approaches to the problems facing people in modern society. It requires aspiration and a willingness to dream beyond our present circumstances. It requires vision and motivation. Beyond the creative “dreamy” stuff, though, it also requires practical solutions and well considered plans of implementation. If you move people to change, you need to paint a picture that illuminates the outcomes you seek while articulating the steps it will take to get there.

Yes, there will be unforeseen challenges that you can’t articulate in the beginning. Yes, the plans will change. No, you do not have to have every step detailed definitively. If you are going to shoot into space though, you better know how to bring your rocket ship back to earth.

Revolutionaries such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have great power to move people towards change in our world. How they use that power will determine whether the change they effect moves us forward or backwards. It takes creativity to move and motivate, but it also takes creativity to bring forth change that makes us a better society.

We need big ideas, but we also need big plans.

It is my hope that the present winds of change do, indeed, move us forward so that future dreamers can take us to places beyond our present day’s wildest imaginations.

Feb 102016
 
whimsical world drawing by BZTAT

drawing by BZTAT

“If you have the best idea in the world but you can’t communicate it to everybody else, then that idea stays locked up in your head.” ~ NASA Astronaut Alvin Drew

Astronaut Alvin Drew has experienced things that most people will never experience. A brilliant scientist and aerospace explorer, he has twice walked in space, and he has collaborated with colleagues from around the world on the International Space Station to learn about the far reaches of our widest frontier.

Despite his superior intellect and experience, however, Drew acknowledges a missing piece in his repertoire. When you have such amazing experiences as he has had, yet lack creative skills for communicating that experience to others, it can be very frustrating.

As a result, Drew has become an champion for the arts in education. He advocates that an “A” for arts and humanities should be added to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) acronym popular in education politics. STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math), he argues, is essential to education – to ensure that our advances in science and technical fields are meaningful to everyone, and to inspire creative innovation.

I think he has a point.

Far too often, scientific advances are dismissed and ignored because creative orators and manipulative political leaders have misdirected people for their own self interests. If our most innovative scientists lack the creative skills to communicate their discoveries, they can go unnoticed by a world hungry for innovation.

Also, too many creative youth may venture away from science and technical fields where they could have great impact, because their education in these subjects lacks inspiration for their creative spirits.

I agree with Drew that the arts should be intertwined in all aspects of education to inspire students to explore concepts more deeply, and to provide them with skills for sharing experiences and discoveries with others.

What do you think?

 

Feb 042016
 
Creativity - Paint and Paint brushes

Art by BZTAT

Defining creativity can be as elusive as trying to hold a cup of water in your hands without the cup. It is a slippery concept that, by virtue of its being, defies an all inclusive definition.

Understanding creativity is important, though, regardless of its elusiveness. We need creativity to make our lives meaningful, challenging and productive.

We need creativity to move things forward and to generate new things – ideas, technologies and products. We need creativity to impact social and political challenges in our world. We need creativity to enhance our personal relationships, and we need it for spiritual fulfillment.

So what, exactly, is IT?

At the risk of being overly simplistic, here is what creativity is to me:

Creativity = Imagination + Action

Creativity is a process where ideas are transformed into real and sustaining presences in the world. An idea, a dream, or a formulation arises in the imagination, and through creative action, it takes form and becomes a presence.

Imagination without action fails to take on a presence, thus it does not become creativity. And that is fine. Not all ideas need to take on a presence outside of our minds.

Action without imagination is rote and repetitive, thus it does not lead to innovation, change or fulfillment. Again, this is fine for certain circumstances, but ultimately, action without imagination becomes hollow and draining.

Ultimately, it is the meeting of an idea with a creative action that brings something new into being. We all need creativity to allow our imaginations to come alive, and we all need creativity to make our life endeavors meaningful.

We all begin our lives as children with a strong creative force within us. Everything around us is new, and we seek ways to interact with the world by creating and adding to what we experience. Our creative force is raw, imaginative and intense, and it brings us great joy. As we grow and build frames around our experience, our imaginations get pruned and our sense of joy becomes encumbered with expectation. Even the most creative people lose some element of creative joy as the balance of expectation and experience gets adjusted through the maturation process.

As adults, we need to return to some of that childlike joy of creation, else we lose touch with the most valuable elements of our lives. We need to take creative journeys where we rejuvenate dormant creative impulses and open ourselves to new experiences.

Creativity is not just for artists. Creativity is for everyone, and it is imperative that we seek creative experience in all avenues of our lives.

Do you feel as though your work, relationships and individual pursuits could be enhanced through creative activity? Do you find that you have an imagination that rarely finds action and implementation of your creative ideas? Do you find that your actions lack imagination and are draining?

Do you think creative change is possible for you?

Please share your thoughts in the comments. I would love to hear what you have to say!

Jan 042015
 

Ripped Seams on JeansThanks for stopping in and viewing the “Ripping Out the Seams” website! I am still creating it, and there is a lot left to do. As a thoroughly creative endeavor, it will never be complete, as creativity is by its nature, an ongoing process. Nonetheless, there are great things planned, and I can’t wait to share them with you.

“Ripping Out the Seams” is my groundbreaking effort to bring creative experience to others in order to enhance their lives, their work and their world. How will I do that? The first step is to help others take a step back and look at their present circumstances. What is working? What is not? What is confining you unnecessarily so that your creative impulses are thwarted and unable to emerge? What seams have been placed around you by others and are holding your spirit in so tightly that you cannot have the impact on your world that you desire?

We cannot rip out every seam that confines us. Some externally placed boundaries are necessary. Yet some boundaries have outlived their usefulness, and we need to disrupt them in order to move forward to new and innovative approaches to our world. Disrupting boundaries and status quo methods that no longer are relevant is what “Ripping out the Seams” is all about.

I look forward to the journey ahead with this endeavor. Thanks for joining me in the adventure!

Life is an Adventure!

BZTAT

 

 Posted by at 10:57 pm