The Role of Creativity in the Struggle for Justice 

by | Jun 14, 2023 | Community Organizing | 0 comments

by Ursa Kaiser (Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center staff, former student)

Speech given during the Gandhi Mandela King 2023 International Conference. 6 June 2023 – 9 June 2023. Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

Abstract: We are challenged today with a battle against low social responsibility and low social consciousness. Within ourselves, the struggle exists to become active participants in our own lives.  As the world around us perpetually changes, those of us seeking to create peace with justice must achieve new mental outlooks and practices to remain relevant. Many psychological and physical problems can arise from a lack of constant renewal and creativity. Formulating a blueprint of our next steps is necessary to keep faith and hope alive. We can use curiosity to elevate our personal blueprints into becoming workplans to transform this world into one unified by consciousness.

Our world is perpetually changing, altering our own selves in the process. A struggle is created between the forces of inspiration and action against the forces of despair and bitterness. Achieving new methods and mental outlooks is necessary to remain relevant in this battle. To assist our nobler self in competing against low consciousness and social responsibility, we can create blueprints for ourselves that are rooted in our own life assignments. 

Creative tension, as described by Dr. King, is the discomfort we get from standing in a reality that is stretching to take a humanistic leap. We feel the strain inside of ourselves when we look hunger, homelessness, or poverty in the eye because our consciousness knows of a world without hunger that has yet to be. Only by making ourselves feel uncomfortable, by creating a society with discomfort in its very foundation, will we approach a peace intertwined with justice. Dr. King, a man known as a dreamer, had visions because of his profound knowledge of the real world. Combining study with practice to constantly renew his positions. It was the conditions surrounding him that always reminded him of what could be. Dreaming requires that we be like Dr. King, and pull ourselves deeper into reality, not be removed from it. As long as that long vastness is ahead of us, we are capable of reaching into it and pulling out possibilities. 

Bitterness leads to greater bitterness; unaddressed depression leads to greater depression. All of us living in this time are aware of the psychological effects that violence in its unyielding global scale creates. Becoming mired in feelings of sadness or resentment create deeper unhappiness and are in fact encouraged by the corporations and individuals who profit the most off of our dysfunction. White supremacy is one of the deadliest implements used to protect economic and political revenue. It relies on cutting individuals from their roots and cultural practices. In the United States, there are very few Italians, Germans, Irish, and so forth. Far more are miscellaneous European, simply “white”. Our Native peoples, through generations of battling against genocide, are fighting to protect their Tribe’s identities, songs, language, ways of life. And our African American brothers and sisters lived on through the deepest ordeals, being kidnapped and forced to forget the people and regions they came from. Without the customs and knowledge of their people, a person will become lonely. The purpose of this separation, this de-culturizing, is to weaken us. Forgetting who we are prompts an unanswerable question, looming over the head of every child, elder and those between. The inescapable truth is that our countries are a part of us, just as our parents are, and their parents, and those before them. Each generation has carried and altered the dreams of those previous to create an assignment for the next. Our own assignments place us on the bridge between our desires and our parents’ desires. Between the two, we create our own blueprint for the next steps ahead. 

Without blueprints that align with our “life assignments” we become naïve and vulnerable. This is how the poverty of the Southern white farmer was separated from the poverty of the Southern Black farmer. The poor white farmer, convinced that he could feed a family on the lies of his own supremacy, languished in his racist beliefs. Failing to effectively organize a necessary interracial campaign against all Southern exploitation. That victory of hatred used an approach so creative that we still face the division to this day. This issue is one of many that interconnect and highlight the urgent need to raise our collective consciousness. Our opponents want to turn our bitterness into your bitterness and my bitterness. To divide our anger into your anger and my anger. When we buy into this division, we forget our own historical unity. The collective struggle becomes your struggle and my struggle, your interest and my interest. We are no longer one. We lose one another. Knowing who and what we are is our first tool against the indoctrination of disunity. It is the first step in understanding where we can go from here.

We also face the predicament of a mutual “stuckness”. A majority of those living in the United States would acknowledge that we have yet to reckon with the imposing threat of rising economic and social inequality, the heightening cost of living, and increasing sting of the climate crisis. Yet it is only a minority that feel fulfilled in their actions to grapple with the causes of their own fearfulness and concern. Unaddressed fear leads to greater fear. Both individually and collectively, we are slowed by the trepidation of acting too quickly, an inability to resolve disagreements, and rejecting the very impacts of threats we face. These factors all point to low social responsibility as a source of our inaction. Incorporating collective fears and dreams into our lives’ blueprints, as opposed to just our own, will assist us in combating low responsibility.  We are tasked to find where our life assignments resonate with social transformation and engaging ourselves to constantly remain relevant. When we are practiced at employing ourselves, we will better understand how to inspire and employ others. More of us working for peace with justice will raise our collective consciousness and mutual responsibility.

We are meant to practice our humanity. Our personhood cannot coexist with war and must resist it. This means, to be a nonviolence practitioner we must stand up, speak up and grab the political power to control and direct ourselves to end the profit-making for the forces of extreme wealth through the deconstructing the military industrial complex. We must answer the call of history and practice interracial living, working and leading. We must reject racism and its evil propellant white supremacy in each nation and around the world. Nonviolence practitioners are bound by duty to redistribute the wealth and bounty of the world so there is work, education, nutrition, shelter, wellness services and deep meaning for all. It is a journey. Each day is a step toward a more responsible and loving tomorrow.Unifying ourselves with the victories and learning points of the past are essential to achieving new mental outlooks. Creativity is not a search for uniqueness, though it often results in novel solutions. When deployed, creativity uses old strategies in new ways that are appropriate for the context around us. It is not to reject what has been, but to resourcefully expand the tactics and purposes of our forebears. Thus, the past foot soldiers of this humanist movement continue to live on through our actions in the present.

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