By Christine Camarillo, Dallas ISD, Senior
In analyzing the value of creativity in today’s world, I have come to the conclusion that we, as a society, have a moral obligation to not only be creative, but to ensure that the products of creativity are accessible. Throughout my investigation, the social responsibility to creativity hasn’t been expressed outright; instead, it can be illustrated through one specific psychological theory.
When psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg crafted his theory of moral development, he prompted the Heinz Moral Dilemma. Essentially, a man is in great need of an expensive drug thought to cure his wife of cancer. After appealing to family, friends, and the pharmaceutical company itself, he only raised half the money necessary to pay for the cure. Faced with his wife’s life or death, he decides to steal it. Kohlberg used this example to provoke further questions of just versus unjust laws, morality, and authority.
However, I would like to apply the Heinz Moral Dilemma to questions about society’s fulfillment of creativity’s moral duties: who is the status quo working for? (it certainly wasn’t for the man trying to raise money to afford a cure). The pharmaceutical company demonstrated incredible creativity in developing the medicine, but without access to it, the drug didn’t do the wife any good. What benefit (and therefore value) does creativity (and therefore progress) have if the people that truly need it don’t have the means to acquire it?
This example doesn’t advocate for a halt in creativity; rather, it encourages the increase of its moral standard. Creativity must be deemed a moral obligation – as a society, we can’t advance without it – but so must its accessibility. And the Heinz Moral Dilemma is not just confined to the realms of medicine; it can be attributed to the American status quo, as well.
To say that mainstream systems “work” for American society is to disregard the people it doesn’t work for; the value of creativity is in the multitude of efforts to counteract the systemic inequity and societal inequality we face now — progress inherently necessitates innovation. And innovation necessitates creativity. Our existing state of affairs, as it operates now, is nowhere short of creativity. However, it seems that bystanders deem our current societal values and systems, for lack of a better word, acceptable. For the ultra-rich, buying the cure to cancer is hardly a moral dilemma at all. For Heinz, the problem was only a moral one. Creativity is the solution, and organizations that work to make Creative Solutions accessible, like Big Thought, are its agents of change.
To better understand my own generation’s perspective, I reached out to six other seniors in an attempt to link the collective “value of creativity.”
As my peers sent me their responses, I noticed that half of them used the word “allow.” Creativity “allows” for the “breaking of boundaries,” collaboration, growth, inspiration, and “critical thinking and spontaneity.” In other words, creativity is a necessary stop on the way to something bigger, an integral piece to the development of personal and social learning, creating far-reaching ripple effects in our community. That’s why Big Thought works. Its programs align with why youth value creativity. On the intersection of social and emotional learning (incorporated into each program) and individual and community progress (as defined by its North Star), Big Thought is always on the move.
My peers and I agree: creativity’s value lies in its potential, advancing society in its ability to enable people to more easily “switch perspectives,” providing empathy in a severely-desensitized world, as well as its “driving force” characteristic, encouraging people to create profound impacts within their community.
Creativity is valuable because it is a core component of both personal and societal advancement. We have a moral obligation to be creative and to make certain that creative solutions are accessible. It is, and always will be, the expressway into the future; organizations like Big Thought are its trusty vehicles.