So the creative impulse somehow births in the midst of suffering. Perhaps it is the impotence to “do” anything about the overwhelming issues. That lack leads to a need for some outlet. The creative world provides a much needed venue.
Is it a cop-out? Let’s save that question. What is born in the trenches of that true compassion (for others, and believe it or not, for ourselves) is art. It is a way to combat the evils, to slay the giant drug lords, to make some real impact.
Artists will soon face the very strange dilemma of what to do with these art pieces, created in the trenches of longing. What purpose can they serve and how worthwhile is their exploitation to the world? Can it stand for such art to be sold?
Considering its beginnings, birthed out of a desire and incompetence to help in more practical ways, it seems all the sillier to somehow profit off such art. Yet if such creating truly is a calling and truly actually helps, why wouldn’t we?
Perhaps in a perfect world art was never intended to be sold. Perhaps artists were and are necessarily to remain, like Franciscan Monks, poor. Perhaps there is an identification with the poor and suffering because it is true for them.
That may be to some degree true. But “success” does not necessitate neglect of such things. There are examples of artists who have become commercially successful and yet stay very focused and involved in their communities and with the poor.
Those artists in some ways give their followers a path. It comes down to an age old question: is the goal of development work really to develop OR is it simply to be with and care for? In other words, do we want the poor to remain such?
If the goal is development and actually equipping the poor than the artist must learn how to do this as well. The artist must become entrepreneur and insist his art become a valuable commodity. This is a desire we must learn to explore and validate.
There is always a tension in development work between the almost romance of poverty (assumes sort of an accept things how they are approach) and the struggle to “get out.” What are we getting out to? Whose world wins as the goal?
That begs the question: is success in the financial sense a particular culture’s world? Or is truly open to all, free of any ethnic preferences? And if it is open to all, do some have natural proclivities and cultural boosts to such a way of thinking and being?
How can we make it ok to succeed? How can we make it guilt-free to advance? Is there a way to get past the cultural bondage of scarcity? If I win, you lose. Is there a way to trust advancement, to see it as not soul-defying?
To get to this we must wrestle down the concept of “the world” offered by many religions. “The world” is seen as the system of success whereby people slowly decay into acquiring machines and lose their ability to be compassionate.