Written in response to comments made by rioters of the anti‑Islam video on YouTube, the piece condemns attacking US embassies and killing innocent diplomats even when provoked by hate speech. Friedman goes on to state that the American‑made video was stupid and ugly, but it should not be used by self‑governing people anywhere to justify violence under any circumstance. Instead of demanding an apology from President Obama, Friedman encourages rioters to look in the mirror or tune into their televisions to see the amount of hate speech coming from their media that insults Shiites, Sufis, Jews, or Christians.
According to Friedman, respect is a two‑way street. It runs both ways. If America and the Muslim World are going to progress in the 21st century, we both need to clean up our acts. Even though Friedman’s comments were directed at individuals involved in events playing out on the world stage, his advice of looking in the mirror is timely and wise for the world at large.
Disparaging world religions, attacking embassies, and killing diplomats are examples of extreme violence and abuse that the majority of people regardless of geography would condemn. It is black and white for most of us without fifty shades of grey. We separate ourselves from the violence thinking it could not happen here. We feel immune and better than the perpetrators. We view our culture as tolerant without realizing that violence and abuse are creeping into our everyday lives too.
Although subtler in form than the extremist version, we let it grow in our families, schools, workplaces, and governments without recognizing its toxic capacity. I agree with Thomas Friedman that it is time to look in the mirror in order to build self‑awareness, to free ourselves from pathologies that lead to violence and abuse, and to embrace creativity as a way out of darkness into the light of elevated solutions.
Feeling. This function is centered around emotions and empathy.
Sensate. Ability to use our five senses.
Intuitive. The quiet voice inside that keeps us safe. It is an inner guidance system directly connected to spirit.
Thinking. It is our ability to make sense of information that we take in and make meaning from it.
If disconnected from any of the above‑mentioned functions due to illness, trauma, or social conditioning, we have trouble understanding and trusting ourselves. Outside forces start to define us. Materialism, ideologies, and other opinions work their destructive magic on our self‑esteem. Manipulation, control, and abuse become our new tools for securing an identity. We get lost in a false sense of self without any connection to our authentic power.
Unfortunately, this type of dysfunction is all too common in the world today. It shapes our home, school, and work environments. How do we recognize it for what it is? In the case of extremist violence, it is easy to spot, but what should we look for when it comes in subtler disguises? Here are some telltale symptoms:
Inequality: If someone needs power over others and cannot treat them as equals, this could be a sign of the dysfunction.
Competition: Some environments are built exclusively on a spirit of one‑upmanship. Notice if winning is more valued than collaboration, co‑creation, and mutuality.
Manipulation: Individuals affected by this dysfunction feel powerless inside. To get temporary relief, they manipulate overtly or covertly in order to feel power over another individual or group.
Hostility: Notice if there is goodwill in a relationship or culture, or does verbal abuse instead of conscious concern for others win out?
Control: With this dysfunction, sustaining dominance over others trumps most needs. Intimacy and a true sense of partnership are not possible.
Negation: Are people feeling invalidated?Are their perceptions, experiences, and values being sidelined? At first, it may seem like a misunderstanding. In reality, the dysfunctional person or group is looking to dominate others for personal gain.
If wreckage is any indication, damage from this unchecked dysfunction can be quite devastating. Look at some of the evidence from the 20th century: 160 million people died in war, approximately ten million people were affected by genocide, 1.5 trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide have been added to the earth’s atmosphere, and cyber‑bullying was born. Is history going to repeat itself in the 21st century or are we going to look in the mirror and make that change towards authentic power, equality, mutuality, goodwill, intimacy and validation? Let’s be brave and stand up to fear, heal ourselves of limiting pathologies, and embrace a new way thinking, away from command and control into limitless creativity.
From trees to herbs, plants are living organisms that grow from a seed, bulb, or plant. They instinctively know how to grow. Roots spread, stems shoot and and foliage multiplies. It is part of the miracle of life. To support this natural process, farmers just have to cultivate the right conditions for growth to happen. Is there enough water? Is there enough fertilizer? Mother Nature does the rest.
Just like plants, human beings are living organisms. We instinctively know how to grow but need the right conditions to thrive especially when it comes to creativity. According to Harvard professor, Teresa M. Amabile, emphasizing values over rules is one of those right conditions. Parents setting and exemplifying a clear set of values and encouraging their children to choose actions that align with those values can go a long way with cultivating a creative next generation. It is not-an-anything-goes policy but a clear-set-of-values policy for home. It is about encouraging values that children can hold on to when they explore any world from music to mathematics to ballet to journalism.
How do we create homes based on values instead of rules? Where do we start? The late Stephen Covey wrote extensively on cultivating family cultures powered by values. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, Covey recommends writing a family-mission statement which is a clear, shared vision or destination. Engaging for any age, the writing process gets family members thinking about their values and focusing on possibilities. Instead of your way or my way, the family focuses on a higher way which is great for growing creativity.
Here are six steps to follow when creating a family-mission statement.
Include all family members. If everyone is involved, everyone commits.
Challenge each person to think of five values that represent their family. Have them write each value separately on an index card.
After eliminating duplications, have your family look at all the values. If certain words need explanation or clarification, allow time for family members to explain.
Conduct a family vote on top five values.
Take the top five values and define their meaning with short phrases. Get everyone’s input. Discuss.
Turn discussed phrases into a family mission statement. Feel free to get creative too. A poem, image, song, or symbol will do.
To make the writing process easier, a family-mission statement from Stephen Covey is included below for your convenience:
Our family mission is to:
Value honesty with ourselves and others.
Create an environment where each of us can find support and encouragement in achieving our life’s goals.
Respect and accept each person’s unique personality and talents.
Promote a loving, kind, and happy atmosphere.
Support family endeavors that better society.
Maintain patience through understanding.
Always resolve conflicts with each other rather than harboring anger.
Promote the realization of life’s treasures.
Frame it, hang it, give it a place of honor. A family mission statement is a foundational document that reminds families of their shared values and destiny. It is a visual representation of what is important. Refer to it for years to come. Use it as a focal point in your creative environment. It is a living, breathing tool that allows families to grow their highest potential. Even with obstacles, frustrations, and bumps in the road that come with experimenting, taking risks, and exploring new ideas, a mission serves as a compass guiding families out of the weeds and back on track with cultivating creativity.
How do we educate students for life in the 21st century? Are the current education models preparing students to thrive in a world moving at warp speed where ideas of today are old ideas of tomorrow?
The TED video, Ken Robinson: Changing Education Paradigms, attempts to answer these questions. According to the video, the field of education has been constructed by people using theories anchored in the Industrial Revolution and the Enlightenment, an intellectual movement in the 17th and 18th centuries that emphasized deductive reasoning, rationality, and knowledge of the classics. Not surprisingly, the resulting systems in education celebrate standardization and reward a certain kind of academic achievement notably left-brain in emphasis. Sir Ken Robinson goes on to purport that these systems are working for a select few but are not serving the majority of students as evidenced by ADHD statistics and dropout rates. For hyper-connected life in the 21st century, a new paradigm is needed. It would emphasize the importance of multiple intelligences even those that are right-brain in nature, nurture innate gifts in students, and cultivate creative thinkers for a global economy.
As I watched this TED presentation, my thoughts kept returning to Albert Einstein. He too struggled with his primary and secondary education. For seven years, Einstein attended the Luitpold Gymnasium in Munich, Germany, an institution known for valuing rote memorization over creative thinking. It was a frustrating experience for him. To Einstein, the spirit of learning was lost in its procedure and methodology. He instinctively knew that a new paradigm was needed.
Later, he found freedom in thought and became one of the most influential physicists of the 20th century eventually receiving the Nobel Prize in 1921. Even though Albert Einstein was inordinately gifted in mathematics and physics, it is reported that he used all of his faculties rooted in both hemispheres of his brain to develop the law of the photoelectric effect and the theory of relativity. Einstein especially trusted his sense of intuition, and he often thought in images and feelings first and recorded them later using words and mathematical equations. Einstein wrote in his autobiographical notes, “conventional words or other signs have to be sought for laboriously only in a secondary stage, when the associative play already referred to is sufficiently established and can be reproduced at will.” He also expressed that musical architectures even played a role in guiding his intuition. According to an article in Psychology Today called Einstein on Creative Thinking: Music and the Intuitive Art of Scientific Imagination, Einstein took breaks at his piano, and without knowing how, music directed his thoughts on space and time in original directions. Einstein said, “all great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge. I believe in intuition and inspiration… At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason.”
Even though most of us will not become world-renowned, theoretical physicists, Einstein and his holistic approach to thinking can inspire us in the 21st century. As the world spins faster and faster, as the rate of technological change increases, and as global issues become more complex, we need to tap into our infinite creativity as Einstein did. We need to teach our to students to rely on both sides of their brains for information, to trust their intuition, to feel their way forward, to employ their innate gifts, and to engage their compassion in order to meet the demands of globalization. Instead of looking to the past to solve current issues, students will invent their way to progress. It starts with a new paradigm.
What a Great Idea: The Four Key Steps Creative People Take
What is to give light must endure burning. — Victor Frankl
Grand or not so Grand Tours
Exploring unfamiliar destinations has a direct impact on thinking. We bring back creative ideas as well as a new way of looking at the world. Don't hesitate to leave your comfortable nest.Traveling is transformative. Bon voyage!
What inspires you? What gets your creative juices flowing? Here are some snapshots to get the conversation started.