"Hope is the thing with feathers - That perches in the soul - And sings the tune without the words - And never stops - at all -" - Emily Dickinson
A quick Google search of the word "generate" will give you this definition "to create by vital or natural process" or "to create and distribute vitally and profusely"
If you've ever seen or read "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" then you are familiar with the "Vogons." The Vogons are a species of bureaucratic aliens whose culture is defined by rigid processes; think the DMV or the IRS incarnate. This species lives to be a part of a mindless, tedious, and purposeless existence...they ARE boredom. The one thing they create is poetry - epically bad poetry - created from a culture that values pure efficiency above all else. For those who haven't developed a taste for poetry yet, think about music, any kind of music. Now think about music produced by a committee, with several subcommittees consulted under various department heads. One for rhythm, one for lyric, one for melody, each working under rigid guidelines that must be met for the music to be published. Each song created under the auspices of government directed guidelines and regulations.
Could we say that this is really creating?
Sure - collaboration is occurring, people are working together, but where is the inspiration? Where is the "vital or natural process" that pushes us to "distribute vitally and profusely?" This isn't creation - it is manufacturing. Now manufacturing is a good thing and has its place - but it is not art. I eat the manufactured bread I buy from Costco, but the bread my son and I make together is far more satisfying.
We are called by God to be co-creators, and there is a lot of writing out there on what that means. In adding to that conversation I suggest that being a co-creator means that we by the nature of God's work in us desire deeply to add beauty to the world. We want not just to manufacture, but to participate in the vital and natural process of creativity from which our zeal pushes us to distribute vitally and profusely. We wish to infuse life into all things - that is our nature.
While we are experiencing quarantine together, separately, I offer up this thought. Here is a time to experience hope in a new way. A hope that is a thing with feathers, that sings a tune you hear - a still small voice - that never stops at all. Hope is a generator; no matter the circumstance, it is there, pouring its beauty into the world. Whatever that still small voice is whispering, follow it, bring it into being. Add beauty to the world and share it. Be a generator that continually exudes your brilliance in the world and never stops at all. In a time where the darkness of the world seems closer, listen carefully for the song of hope - for that is the voice of God.
To my students:
Education these days can sometimes look a lot more like manufacturing than creation. If you see this, you are right to make note of it. How can we redefine the way we think so that students are not only consumers, but co-creators of their own knowledge? What does it mean for you to be a co-creator of your own knowledge? How does this stack up against the practical, concrete nature of living?