It goes practically without saying that human beings are creative. We create when we think, feel, speak and act. Whatever we do inspires a result, or consequence. If we look, we can see that our words and actions form results (if we like them) or consequences (if they please us less). Our thoughts and feelings have a similar effect, creating or drawing to us according to their nature. Many of us are now learning how to work with those thoughts and feelings, with varying levels of proficiency. What most of us do not consciously realize is that while we exist within time, creation moves forward, and we cannot create backwards. We cannot create the past! We can bring elements of what was valuable in the past into the present and into our creative efforts. Those elements can integrate themselves into our creative efforts and be incorporated into the future we are creating right now, but they will never be exactly as they were in the past. This is where many are stuck and frustrated, wondering why life will not do what we try to get it to do, no matter how hard we try.
On a political level, it seems obvious that the efforts to “make America great again” (aside from the idea that America is already great) are not working very well. Besides not producing concrete results other than chaos, they have generated ill will domestically and abroad. They have provided abundant fuel for comedy, and serious accusations of treachery and treason. They are decimating our economy and threatening to permanently damage our natural world. Why? In essence, because they are trying to recreate a world of more than fifty years ago, in which we did not need to worry much about pollution, when one car per family was abundantly satisfactory, when, with some exceptions, one breadwinner could bring in enough to sustain a family, when we did not know about the effects of pesticides, when population and sprawl had not yet exploded, when there was time to relax from work (possibly because a majority of women at home made that possible), when excursions into nature were easier to find and do; the list is not exclusive.
That does not mean that what was valuable in those times cannot be brought forth, adapted, and continued into the present and future. It does mean that those years are not going to come back, exactly as they were, accepted for better or worse as they were at the time, nor are they going to be remembered exactly as they were then. The past cannot be recreated. Efforts to do so will bring only a disfigured present, a warped blend of edge-softened memories inserted into the needs of the present.
On a personal level as well, attempts to recreate an idealized (perhaps even an ideal) past repeatedly end in failure. Creation is about change, and trying to bring back what was, no matter how beloved, is about immobilization. Those of us who try to reconstruct in the present the memory of a happy childhood, the joy of a relationship now gone, the comfort and security of a stable job now ended, a familiar pattern of behavior which once worked, are expending effort to create against creativity. We are at war with ourselves, and whatever change is created will not be positive. That does not mean that the elements of what brought us joy as a child, the satisfying intimacy of a former relationship, the comfort and feelings of security or working patterns of behavior cannot be brought forth and integrated into what is now. It is only that change must be acknowledged and that what is integrated must be consistent with change. The past cannot be recreated. We live with what is now, and build from that.
Culturally, we are going through a period of rapid change. Often, what is used as a vehicle to bring about a desired change (which is not always presented exactly as is really needed) is the idea of “rights”, entitlements as opposed to true acknowledgement of each other’s humanity. The problem with “rights” is that they are a conceptualization of immobility. They are seen as what always was, and from which we have gone astray and to which we must return, to which everyone must submit, without exception as exactly formatted by the ostensible creators of desired change. They attempt to immobilize. Creative change, on the other hand, recognizes the value of each member of humanity, and within that framework, communicates to create a solution that benefits all of us, not just the group that desired or needed the change in the first place. Can we not, for example, come up with a framework that values all of our needs and humanity, without dividing ourselves into black, white, brown, citizen, immigrant, refugee, child, disabled, whole-bodied, gay, straight, transgender, old, young and the like? Can we not refrain from making some people or groups more valuable than others, engaging in constant dispute over whose needs are being met and whose rights violated? I think we can. But we need to remember that we cannot recreate a more stable past, or conversely, completely deny that past into the present and the future. We need to learn to let go of what was and incorporate its value into what is, in order to create a future that we all want.
I invite us all to examine not only what we want to create and what we are creating, but also whether our process of creation is working with the creative forces of change, or with the atrophic forces of immobilization.