Nostrils filled with stench demand creative resolve. This summer, I battled a skunk at my in-law’s cabin. Each weekend greeted me with the miasma of failure of the previous week’s attempts. The putrid problem gripped me, consumed me, and I found my creativity invigorated around the disposal of this creature. Each breath reminded me of the need for order to be restored in my “kingdom.” I could not escape it. This need was the mother of my inventing, creating, and innovating.
Leaders of privilege have no such odors, or what odors they do have can be easily masked. My allegory breaks down when one considers the privileged location of this duel: a family-owned, vacation, mountain property. Hardly a problem of significant weight.
While necessity is the mother of invention, “necessity” is the operative word. Leaders of privilege have a few choices when facing the reality of true necessities, or the lack thereof. Filled with self-delusion, they can find themselves convinced their problems are of grave significance…
They could be so marked with the story of the incarnation that they could put their own meat (carne) or skin in the game. They could be in solidarity so much with those on the margins, that their sense of prosperity (sha·lo·vm, Jeremiah 29:7) becomes intertwined. “Your problems are now my problems,” they agree.
Knitted, interdependent prosperity far eclipses charity. Charity says, “I have prospered, so I give to you that you might prosper.” Jeremiah 29 prosperity goes further, “Only in your prospering, do I find my prospering.”
These musings were sparked by an unrelated topic in the work of Stephen D’Souza and Diana Renner. In their collaborative book, Not Knowing, they give personal accounts of leaders in the fray. One leader recollects, “For me, it all started with a problem that was bothering me” (286). For a problem to truly bother, it must live in close proximity. It must fester. It must gnaw. What then, my mind wandered, for those who have insignificant bothering problems?
Without skin in the game, a dog in the fight, or carne in the problem, creativity flounders. However, the converse is true, too. When our prosperity is on the line, our collective genius engages creativity.
Nostrils filled with stench demand creative resolve. With incarnational posture, each breath reminds us of the need for order to be restored in the Kingdom. We cannot escape it. This need, then, becomes the mother of our collective inventing, creating, and innovating.
Steven D’Souza and Diana Renner, Not Knowing: The Art of Turning Uncertainty into Opportunity (New York: LID Publishing, 2016).