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How to Stifle Creativity


Last May, at the Missouri Beef Days festival in Bolivar, I was excited to hear Temple Grandin speak. Grandin is an Animal Science professor and lecturer, who also visits meat processing plants to consult on their handling of the animals. I was astounded to hear her concerns about America. She reported about how we continually rely on other countries for the articulately designed products that are needed in our food processing plants, and how not many Americans are aware of how to repair these items when they need to be fixed.

One instance she pointed out was at a beef plant. The cows were too big to fit through the chute, and no one at that plant, nor the whole parent company, it seemed, could figure out how to widen the mechanism, so that these bigger cows could get through. Production was slowing down to a standstill due to this problem. This, along with other similar cases, helped account for food shortages and price hikes. Grandin proceeded to show a slide show of pictures of awesome places she’d been in America- a space center, a poultry plant, etc.- along with the country of origin of all the machinery parts. Germany, Japan, and others: many countries were accounted for. But, none were produced in America.

I do believe in the global economy, as no one nation would be able to produce every single thing they need and want. However, I believe in being participants in the production side of the economy, instead of just as dependent consumers. If we can keep alive the spirit of innovation, and seeing the larger view of how things work, then perhaps we will be more prepared to take care of ourselves, as a country, when dire times strike.

So, with this in mind, I’ve put together a (tongue-in-cheek) guide on how to, in my opinion, squelch our future, as it applies to how we treat our children, along with ourselves, and others around us.

  • Never allow your children to make their own choices.

  • Be sure to second guess them when they do. Make sure they understand just how much you doubt them.

(Please note, I am not talking about when harm of any kind is involved to oneself or others, which should not be allowed; only choices which are appropriate.)

  • Always make sure to encourage them to succeed only in the activities you choose for them, never in the ones they are naturally drawn to themselves.

  • Make them suppress all desires for movement and speech for long periods of time, multiple days a week. This will speed up the deadening of each individuals’ inner spirit, which in turn, helps us to perish as a whole, too.

  • Put them in situation after situation in which peers will judge and pester them for any unique ideas or idiosyncratic personality traits.

  • Subject them to tests and evaluations that others prepare for them. This will enable others to make comparisons with surrounding people regarding growth, worth, and well-being, just to further solidify the lack of thinking for oneself.

Does any of this sound familiar? Again, it applies not just to raising kids, but also how we treat ourselves as our own “parents” when we age out of the need for others’ care.

I’ve heard the quote before that was akin to, “We spend the second half of our lives unlearning all the mistakes we learned during the first half.” Perhaps that’s just the natural way life is supposed to happen. But perhaps, instead, we can make it easier on the next generation, by not giving them that huge, time- and energy-consuming task to begin with, so that they can get on with their lives instead.

Some of us will have to unravel all the unconscious, accidental, craptastic tapestry which is tightly wound around our souls (which doesn’t fit us very well anyway), that we accumulated by trying to please others, in order to begin anew. Then we can freshly take those raw materials, and colorful threads, to begin to weave together the life that we really, deep down, longed for all along.

This can lead to the individuality which allows us each to flourish, and thereby think for ourselves enough to be able to survive the critical thinking crises which will undoubtedly arise. Keep in mind that this is just one end of the extreme. At the other end, instead, lies the problem of lack of discipline and never having one’s ideas questioned. Perhaps a happy medium could be found.

Since I’d love to not ruin the future, for not only our lovely country, but all of humanity, but instead hinder that process, I’d like to avoid the doomsdays at the meat plants, and other factories, that the wise Temple Grandin spoke about, and do my own part to help. She is scheduled to be back in Bolivar to talk on Tuesday, May 9 if you’d like to learn more.  


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