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I attended a wedding a few years back where I met a non-creative, recent-college graduate who was quite impressed with himself. He stated to our little group- consisting of my wife (a graphic designer), his girlfriend (an aspiring opera singer), and myself (a professional musician and vocal coach)- that of all the professions in the world, it is the creative ones that society could survive without. According to his logic, the professions that are really needed are doctors, lawyers, accountants, police officers: anyone whose profession it is essential to keep the cogs turning, and maintain order.

Normally, I don’t make it a habit of conversing with such closed-minded people. I find that they are not typically able to add to my quality of life, nor do they believe that others are capable of adding quality to theirs. Given the nature of the social situation, and the fact that he was the boyfriend of my wife’s friend, I decided to be cordial.

“I couldn’t agree more,” I told him. “The world would certainly be better off if only people like you existed…”

It took him a minute.

“Personally, I can’t think of a better society than one where music and art does not exist; where productivity is the only virtue, and where everyone wears the exact same thing, day-in and day-out. Functionality: that’s all that matters!”

The whole idea of creativity not having a place within society is nonsensical. The human mind is creative by nature. If it ceases to be creative, then it ceases to be. Furthermore, what comes to your mind when someone mentions the word “Renaissance”? Art. Music. Invention. CREATIVITY. It is not remembered for the fine work of “George the accountant.”

That’s not to imply that I don’t appreciate the work of accountants. I love mine. She is wonderful, and she is gifted in a way that I most certainly am not. The point is that society must always have balance. We must have productivity. And we must have the type of creative thinking that inspires such productivity. Without balance, society ceases to function, or if it does manage to do so, it is without a sense of purpose and joy in its members. Subsequently, it will fail to be remembered. To quote the great Carl Jung, “All the works of man have their origin in creative fantasy. What right have we then to deprecate imagination?”

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Jeff Mathena

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