Embracing the world with positive creativity since Sept 2007.
“Democracy does not have to be a blood sport. It can be an honorable enterprise that advances the public interest.” ––former U.S. President Bill Clinton
When former U.S. President Bill Clinton made the above statement at the 2012 Democratic National Convention on September 5 in Charlotte, N.C., he was referring to the intensely negative elements that have made their way into the current presidential election campaign. He could, however, have been discussing almost any kind of attempt to resolve major differences where individuals choose to rely on brutality or guerrilla decontextualization as opposed to civility and communication.
Imagine the many possibilities of what life might, could, or would be like for so many today if Osama bin Laden had developed a different perspective on how best to address what he considered grievances against the United States. Even if his reasoning still led him ultimately to the word “jihad,” he would still have had the option of exercising a definition of jihad as something other than a physical war against one’s fellow human beings.
He could have honored the legitimate definition of jihad as a spiritual effort to overcome whatever personal limitations or failings might stand in the way of achieving one’s greatest spiritual development. The version Osama bin Laden chose created a maniacal manifestation of what Clinton called “blood sport.” Had he opted for the higher path, instead of his legacy casting a shadow of dread and hatred over this 21st century it could have developed in such a way that he left behind a shining example of diplomacy, grace, and faith.
In his presentation at the Democratic National Convention, Vice President Joe Biden noted that correcting the injustice of 9/11 “was about righting an unspeakable wrong, healing a nearly unbearable wound in America’s heart,” a wound that had to be healed. In truth, the wound he spoke of was in the world’s heart. It was such not only because citizens in New York City lost their lives in the attack but because New York has long been celebrated as the ultimate metropolis, the place of glittering urban canyons to which people traveled and relocated from everywhere else to satisfy their sense of adventure and freedom. In addition, the total number of those who died in the multiple locations of the violence reportedly represented some 90 countries.
Creative Responses and Processes of Healing
In the wounded years that immediately followed September 11, 2001, it became increasingly clear that individuals, communities, and nations were going to find themselves steeped in the processes of healing for a very long time. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars bolstered our shattered sense of security and helped soothe a raging hunger for revenge but they did not heal. They in fact created more casualties.
True healing required in part the intentional creation of beauty and wisdom to replace all the ashes of destruction that had been stuffed down humanity’s collective throat. To help with the actual healing and reclaim some of the sanity lost to 9/11’s madness, the online community Creative Thinkers International was founded in September 2007. The community’s original official mission statement read as follows:
“The goal of Creative Thinkers International, also known as The CTI Initiative, is to help inspire creative responses to the challenges and the joys of 21st century life through all positive forms of writing, visual arts, music, social sciences, spiritual awareness, and philosophical inquiry.”
Since that time, more than 500 hundred authors, poets, artists, musicians, teachers, philosophers, photographers, homemakers, students, and others from throughout the Global Village have given substance to the site’s purpose to stand as one emblem of creative alternatives in the midst of a world environment boiling over with soul-consuming nihilism.
This month CTI celebrates its fifth anniversary. In observance of that anniversary, it established the Human Liberty Around the World Symposium as well as its new Music Around the World Video Club. Both exemplify the inspired determination to identify ways around divisive differences and construct bridges of positive motivation that connect such common goals as peace and education and unity.
Members are not so naïve as to think that posting a story, a poem, a video, or a photograph is going to correct all the world’s troubling imbalances. What they are is passionate enough about the world in which we live to share with communities beyond ideological or geographical borders a glimpse of what yet remains possible.