Global Priors Council 7/25/77
The chart of Profound Humanness describes a diamond with twelve
major facets. If you look into any of those facets, for instance
creativity, you may see the new face of the mystery itself. You
can best express creativity in terms of these other aspects. Creativity
is an event that happens in life. It is an encounter with the
Mystery. It is the dawn of consciousness. It is pure action. It
involves the totality of your being. It never happens outside
of corporateness. It is a declaration. It is a presence. You can
illustrate that to yourself just by looking around this room.
It is integrity. Denying your own integrity is cutting off the
flow of creativity. It is the only thing that can cut it off.
Creativity is the expression of care. It is effulgence. I expect
that you could take any one of these categories and express them
in terms of the other eleven. These are really master images.
We are talking about the same thing. We are talking about what
is at the heart or center of those three campaign wheels. They
spin or pivot on profound humanness.
There are four categories, one of which I changed. The first
one is universal relativity.
Creativity happens when you or your situation is thrown into a
new context. Just the experience of walking into this council
is the experience of creativity, not especially your own or somebody
else's. Stepping into this hall is stepping into the presence
of creativity because it relativizes everything you have been
consumed with up to this point. You almost forget.
I walked into here from Termine and it's almost as though
I had forgotten everything. I look and I see, behold! It's Area
Paris that I come from. I had almost forgotten. I look across
the room and see my colleagues. Everything comes flooding back
and a completely new context is created. The universe you have
built for yourself to live in has to be totally dismantled. That's
what the Council is. It's dismantling your universe, taking it
all apart bit by bit and putting it back together again so that
you can continue to release creativity for another year. You almost
want to use religious language. You know the story about the old
man named Noah, who realized that the whole world was coming to
an end. He experienced the total impossibility of the world continuing
in the way that it had been. It was going to be destroyed. That
confrontation with the judgment of God on his life and his whole
world is what gave rise to creating a whole new universe, to building
the Ark. This old man had to find a way to carry the great inventions
of humanness, of life itself, into the future. Creativity is seeing
that you cannot go on the way you have been going. Another way
of saying that is that a contradiction is the mother of proposal.
The second one is historical
engagement. What I have understood more than anything
else this past year about creativity as historical engagement
is that it is relentless combat. It is relentless warfare, both
hand to hand and as part of a huge operation. There is not a moment
of the day when you are not at war. It's like Mao on the long
march. Even at night when he was exhausted, he knew that if he
allowed himself to fall into a deep sleep, he would get knifed
in the back. You think that this kind of engagement will kill
you. The curious thing is that the more you engage in it, the
more creativity, inventiveness, and alertness is released from
you. I have never been more indignant about the injustice with
which society functions. I find myself quite unexpectedly locked
in combat against injustice that history continues to present
me with. It's also combat with the despair that attacks you and
your colleagues. It's combat against something that doesn't like
life: anti-life. Anti-life is a very real, very active force which
has, of course, been called Satan. It's a race against time.
I remember parts of a poem. I expect some of you know it.
It talks about how creativity is always being absolutely engaged
Had we but world enough and time
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To pass our long love's day.
And you should, if you choose, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
For, lady, you deserve this state.
Nor would I love at lower rate,
But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near.
And yonder, all before us lies
Deserts of vast eternity.
Another line there that is not crucial, but rather nice, is:
"the grave's a fine and private place, but none I think do
there embrace." This poem has some good lines to express
what we experience. What used to be just coyness, procrastination
or forgivable liberalism is a crime. You experience it as a crime
and you recognize it as a crime. Phenomenologically, that means
that you are consumed with anger. I think very much of the time
the anger we mistake for destructiveness in ourselves is godly
anger. It's lifegiving hostility. I was delighted to see
in The Gospel According to
St. Matthew how smoldering with anger Jesus was all
through that movie. It affirmed the murderous hostility I experienced
this past year. It is hostility against crime, your own criminality
and the criminality of those you are working with. It is a crime
to let one moment go by in anything less than complete consciousness,
profound humanness. It is a crime to let yourself or anybody else
deviate from profound humanness.
In creativity, you find yourself participating fu11y in the
drama of history itself. I could say a lot about that relative
to the situation in Termine. It's the eternal struggle between
the fascists and the communists. Creativity means to live in the
midst of that and to proclaim, perhaps for the first time in anybody's
living memory, a viable alternative for human endurance.
The third category is decisional
impact. Creativity is the impact that your life decision
makes on the world. I had a strange experience in Termine. They
have a yearly celebration which is a procession where they parade
their statue of St. Anthony. The statue is almost life-sized.
It is made of chipped and painted plaster and has a little orange
dumpling on his forehead which is supposed to signify the flame
of inspiration. Every year four strong young men hoist St. Anthony
up on their shoulders and carry him through the very narrow streets
with the whole village following past where sewer goes out. (They
still don't have a proper draining system; because it's very hard
to get sewage out of a valley that's on top of a mountain. Soon
we will find a way to do that.) The whole village stands just
out of range of the smell of the sewer, looking out over the fields.
They sprinkle holy water over the field and then everybody waits.
Suddenly, from behind a thicket a few fields away, there is an
enormous explosion and then another, and another. They are the
loudest explosions you ever heard. They echo all over the valley
until all the hills are rocking with the violent explosions. Well,
they are expressing something. I don't even know what St. Anthony
did. All I saw was this very mild little man with an orange f1ame
on his forehead standing there very quietly, modestly, and kind
of smiling at these enormous explosions. Well, maybe they are
saying that the decisions you make with your life have a shattering
The consult is the same thing. At the end of the consult,
when literally the whole of the universe of that village had been
completely dismantled and put together in a number of extraordinary
ways, somebody got up to thank "Mr. Avery and his friends"
for what they had done.
You know, the man who made The
Gospel According to St. Matthew died even more absurdly
than John. He was battered to death with a plank a year or so
ago in a muddy field in a suburb of Rome, and then his body was
driven over by his own car. At any rate, you feel as though it
is unimportant because the creativity is what is vital about him.
History is very callous about what actually happens to you and
your life. It is the impact of your decision on the globe that
Now, the fourth category is called sociological
creativity. I'd suggest it be called social
pioneering, which means the same thing but is a more
consistent term. As individuals and as a corporate group, a global
movement, we are doing social pioneering. We are creating new
forms and new structures of humanness, whether it's the simplest
conversation you have on the street corner or the most ambitious
battle planning session. A lot is inexpressible in the phenomenology
I think of the story of Anthony Quinn, the actor, when he
had to play the part of the pope in The
Shoes of the Fisherman. The day he was supposed to
be filmed being crowned as pope, he had a strange disease and
his face swelled up. Someone told him that this used to happen
to medieval monks before they were ordained, explaining that their
whole being rose up in rebellion against letting that much holiness
out of them. When he found that out, the swelling cleared up and
he went on with the scene.
I found a similar parallel in the story our colleague told
about discovering that our models are not working, that our self-story
is on the wrong track and seeing that you have to redo the whole
universe. Your experience is of wanting to lie down on the expressway
and let history roll over you and discard you. You know you are
a social pioneer in every instance. For instance, before a guild
meeting, the experience is like the agony in the garden. It's
helpful to know that you are on the threshold of profound creativity
when that happens. It doesn't take the pain away but at least
it gives you a point of reference. Creativity is social pioneering.
I believe that my own creativity and yours is found in what
we are creating and embodying now: the company that cares. I think
that is a very good name. I would not be nervous about standing
on my death bed and saying that I lived and died as "the
company that cares" and that was my creation and my creativity.
Someone said the other day that maybe the great wheels of social
demonstration and the great wheel of community forum will begin
to flow together this coming year. I think we will begin to see
the top one, the Global Servant Movement, begin to swirl towards
the center as well. Already you can begin to see it as whole villages,
neighborhoods begin to grasp themselves as the Global Servant
Movement. That is our creativity. Perhaps our offering to history
is this great wheel of fire where all three spin together. That
is what creativity is, what profound humanness is.