Nurturing and Practicing the Culture of Creation
A nation experiences trade-deficit when it fails to produce enough goods and services for its citizens and consumes more than it produces. Such a nation is unstable or unhealthy as it is likely to lose its resources and strength. Enhancing its production to levels more than its consumption is the only way a nation can redeem itself from financial and societal strife. A family that consumes more than it can produce/earn is likely to run into debts quickly. These debts become unserviceable unless its earning outgrows its consumption. If it cannot, then it risks losing its wealth and property. Today, the economy of most nations depends on consumption spending by its citizens much more than at any time in the past. In fact, consumer spending is the largest part of aggregate demand at the macroeconomic level. Consequently, from a very young age, everyone is conditioned to be a subconsciously obedient consumer. Consumption is thereby an attitude promoted and adequately entrenched in the current times. Though the above illustrations seem to point at economic aspects, the idea of consumption as an attitude is not only restricted to economic situations. It is applicable to non-economic aspects of an individual as well. An individual who can create enough ideas to handle life situations rather than seek solutions elsewhere is likely to navigate oneself better. An individual with a deficit of ideas is, therefore, more likely to be a consumer of ideas, more likely to be a consumer of solutions. An individual who can generate enough ideas and has abilities to handle one’s life situations, and not needing to depend on others for ideas or to borrow capabilities, is likely to sustain individually and contribute to society. After all, isn’t the capability of generating ideas and abilities to handle one’s life situations what education has to empower an individual with? Isn't education a process to support an individual to become capable and cultivate an attitude of creation? The strange situation we seem to find ourselves in is that our education system isn’t even attempting to build these capabilities. Further, consumerism has crept into individual homes as well. With the rise of disposable incomes and with avenues to purchase goods and services multiplying, propensity to 'buy' over 'make' has nearly become the norm. We are either oblivious of this change or nonchalant. In summary, we are enhancing the attitude of consumption while not doing enough to promote the attitude of creation. Consequently, we are increasing the risk of an imbalance, where children consume more than they create - an unhealthy situation, a downward slope towards losing strength, wealth and capability. The following definitions will assist in understanding and analyzing the consumption and creation: ● Using one's resources to acquire goods, services or information for personal use and happiness is consumption. ● Using one's ability to bring into existence an idea or a thing, in real or abstract terms, is creation.
The discussions here are also confined to the context of creating a conducive environment to foster an appropriate attitude in children during their formative age. Here are two axiomatic statements that form the background for further discussions: ● Happiness, an emotional need of every individual, drives all action: consumption or creation. ● A large part of what children learn/acquire during their formative years is through imitating/following what parents do, rather than they say. We consume goods, services and information, as some amount of all three is essential to lead a life of dignity. In an environment where the availability of these are high and access is easy, it is challenging to differentiate between needs and wants. Financial prudence forces restriction on consumption to levels below our income. However, restricting consumption based on the fulfilment of our happiness seems arduous. This leads to mindless consumption (consuming even in the absence of a need) as well as excessive consumption. In the context of today's children/students, the reality is that they have been conditioned to experiencing happiness in buying new clothes, in tasting new delicacies at restaurants, in subscribing to and watching television channels or other media, in purchasing and using gadgets, in taking exotic holidays etc. The society, and consequently at familial level, has been encouraging these ideas and hence strengthening an attitude of consumption early on. Such an attitude is detrimental to being a student. Creation of abilities in oneself, creation of ideas and solutions, and creation of joy is what each one is capable of. Using one's innate and acquired ability to draw/paint, narrate or author a story, sing, dance, create a toy is creation. Investing time and effort to acquire musical capabilities is creation. Acquiring the habit of general reading is creation. Acquiring knowledge and capability through learning academic subjects is creation. Playing group games, indoor and outdoor, that strengthen thoughts of sharing, cooperation, persistence, accepting winning and losing with equanimity, is creation. Sustaining regular practices that build character is creation. ● Need for happiness is insatiable! An attitude of consumption invariably leads to reckless consumption resulting in anxiety and suffering. Further, the attitude of consumption pushes people to tranquilize their worries through more consumption. Attitude of creation results in happiness and contentment. ● Consumption mandates dependence whereas creation induces strength to stand alone. ● Consumption depletes abilities while creation inherently strengthens abilities. ●Consumption infuses a false sense of accomplishment while creation builds self-confidence. ● Consumption breeds fear (of losing) whereas creation provokes exploration. ● Consumption makes us think of our rights whereas creation provokes thoughts of our responsibilities. ● On a philosophical note, consumption forces bondage whereas creation liberates. As parents, our thoughts and actions should unforgivingly promote and exemplify creation and discourage consumption. Let us consciously evaluate every thought and action of ours to check whether it's stemming from an attitude of consumption or creation. Let us impoverish and discard thoughts and actions stemming from consumption and embrace those with genesis in creation. Let us strengthen or commence practices at home that promote and sustain creation. Let us see joy in and celebrate creation. It is imperative that we save our children from becoming consumers. At each one of our homes, we need to nurture and practice the culture of creation - creation of ideas, capabilities, solutions and joy.