To be human is to be creative

even if you aren’t a potter, poet, or painter

What does it mean to be human? It’s an old question but one worth visiting again and again to give our lives direction and higher purpose. The most common answers I’ve come across are:

  • Man is social, if not he’d be a beast or a god. (Aristotle)
  • To be human is to be made in God’s image and likeness. (Genesis)
  • To be human is to be a pilgrim. (Gabriel Marcel)
  • Human beings are self-interested.
  • Human beings are made to love.
  • Human beings are rational creatures.
  • Humans need to eat good meals. (Babette’s Feast, Leon Kass’ The Hungry Soul)

Of all these definitions, the one that makes me feel most empowered is the biblical one.

Even if you might not believe, it’s worth thinking about what it claims:

If to be human is to bear the image of God, and this God is the God of Genesis, then you and I are made in the image of the God who made the universe.
If it’s true, then, whatever we do as human beings makes use of all that creative energy.

It’s a provocative definition because it claims mind-blowing creativity isn’t just for artists, musicians, and poets. Creativity belongs to everyone because each of us are made in the template of whoever designed the breathtaking, wondrous world we live in.

Whether you buy it or not, you’d have to admit, it’s an attractive, emboldening idea.

I remembered this idea when I came across 3 links this morning, which celebrate the human power to create.

1. Video by John Spencer : “We need a bigger definition of creativity”

2. This reflection from John Paul II about how all human work taps into what is divine in us:

In it, he talks about how all human work participates in something sacred. Makes sense when you remember what it feels like to get lost in “the flow” of work. Moments like these, it’s almost like something beyond you — a kind of mysterious power from somewhere else — takes over.

3. Professor Andreas Widmer’s Vocation of Business course

Unlike other business courses, this one doesn’t present profit as the goal of enterprise. Instead, it encourages students to think of building companies as an exercise in creativity. He challenges students to think of business as a means to living out their unique calling and concretizing what they’re most passionate about. I found his perspective refreshing because it trains the next generation of business builders to pursue both profit and purpose at the same time, thereby ennobling what is often viewed as merely mercenary.

Before you go…

Have you ever come across a book, clip, movie, article that changed, in a good way, the way you view human creativity? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below, and I’m sure other readers will appreciate the recommendations too.

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