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The Power of Creativity

“You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist.  At eighteen he took his inheritance, seven hundred kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study.  He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and later to the School of Architecture.  Ever see one of his paintings?  Neither have I.  Resistance beat him.  Call it overstatement but I’ll say it anyway:  it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.”

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In his book, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield refers to a force that keeps creatives from creating.  He calls this force Resistance.

Have you ever experienced Resistance?  Of course you have… we all have.  Anytime we try to create or make or construct or author or imagine or shape something new… Resistance stares at us from across the battle line, ready to war against even the quietest whisper of creativity within us.  I’m met by it even as I sit writing this post.  The voice saying,

“It’s not good enough.”

“There are other things you ought to be doing right now.”

“You’ll never be the artist you want to be.”

“It will just fail anyway, so don’t waste your time trying.”

Are you familiar with this voice?  Maybe you’ve heard these same questions roll around in your own gut, and walked away from making something, because you believed that voice.  I’m convinced now, more than ever, that Resistance is real.  But in my Judeo-Christian understanding of the world I don’t call it Resistance.  I call it evil.

I listened to an interview recently on the Hillsong Creative Podcast with Jeremy Courtney, CEO and Founder of Preemptive Love Coalition, in which he spoke about the effects ISIS has on the arts when they take over a community.

“One of the things that we see all across these communities… in Iraq or Syria when we drive into town, is that the first thing ISIS does when they come to town is destroy the art.  Whether it’s a school building that had a couple of kids painted on the outside wall in a mural that just basically means to say ‘This is where kids come and play… Welcome.’  In small little west Iraqi village towns, the crescent moon and the cross painted on the backpacks of two kids who are walking down the street together, showing that we don’t have to be at odds with one another, that we’re in this together.  ISIS comes in and they destroy the art.  They scratch the faces off the Smurfs.  They deface Mickey Mouse.  There’s something incredibly threatening to this kind of fundamentalist ideology, about anyone who can imagine anything beyond what I tell you to believe.  So imagination is so scary.  Which means imagination is so powerful… This is where life and vitality find its way, and so that is threatening to them.”

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“City of love in a time of war,” a painting by Syrian artist Wissam Al Jazairy

Creativity is the vehicle for life and vitality.  If we are born of a Creator, we are destined to create, for the sake of reflecting life and vitality.  So if there is a force in this world that intends only to steal and kill and destroy, that force will do whatever is necessary to keep us from creating.  Wherever there is Creativity, there will be Resistance.

But…

You were born to imagine.

You were born to invent.

You were born to affect your world by making, and doing, and dreaming.

So fight.

Fight to create.  Fight to compose.  Fight to forge your ideas.

Fight for imagination and wonder and beauty and expression and vision.  Because the force that resists creativity is fighting.  Every day.  Destroying the seedlings of artistry that sprout in your inner person before you even realize they were through the soil.

Can you even imagine if all the creative influence that had been built into Hitler had been turned toward Good?  If he hadn’t succumbed to the pressure of Resistance?  As much as he changed our world for the worse, he would have changed it for the better.

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Typographer Stefan Kunz

So make something.  Imagine something.  Dance something, draw something, sing something, build something!  Even if you don’t deem it worthy.  It IS worthy.  Worthy of this fight.

And you are worthy to do it.

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