Recently, the 50th anniversary of the death of the great Martin Luther King, Jr. led us all to remember him and to take up again his spirit of activism. He is a hero to me not only as a spiritual activist but also as a creative activist. He had pride in his self-described “maladjustment,” and envisioned an organization devoted to its creative expression: “The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment — men and women who will be as maladjusted as the prophet Amos.”
Amos fought for social justice, as did Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha. He was grieved by inequality, by excessive wealth that existed alongside extreme poverty. Such prophets, inspired teachers, still exist among us. I have been following the spiritual activism of John Pavlovitz, who challenges the haughty and stubborn members of the “white evangelical” crowd to remember compassion, sensitivity, and above all the love that is inherent in the Christian faith. I grew up in the Southern Baptist church, and in the past few years have become more frustrated and disappointed than ever by its support for the current president during and after the election. Therefore, I am drawn to spiritual and creative activists.
Some Characteristics of Creative Activism
- It begins with fierce love. What are you devoted to? You don’t have to be everything to everyone, and you don’t have to fight every fight. Are you interested in prison reform? literacy? Women’s rights or other civil libertiez? Something else?
- It encourages individual choice of expression. If you are uncomfortable with marches and protest signs, what are the gifts and talents you can use in creative resistance?
- It engages and cooperates with others who are working to achieve similar goals. I had the honor to be involved with a project called Love is Love, for example, and I became “A Voice for Poets.”
I have always loved poetry. In recent years, I have become a committed advocate for it.
- I started a Facebook page and gave myself the challenge to be “A Voice for Poets.” I started sharing poetry by people from all walks of life and all skill levels.
- I accepted the chance to be the administrator of an online creativity group with 100 members when a friend stepped down from that role. We’re still going and welcome new members. You can find us on Facebook at The Curiosity Salon.
- I started submitting more of my own work and let myself be braver in what I was writing about. I had a little gasp when I saw that The Feminine Collective had published my poem “Apocrypha“ with a neon-lit sculpture of Jesus. I wondered what my conservative Christian family would think of it, and of the poem itself, which featured Jesus taking on bullies and some other unusual ideas about his life and work. I let my concern go. The poem has its own life; it is out of my hands.
- When the opportunity came for me to have my own radio show at Spirit Plants Radio, I accepted, and I shaped that show into an audio literary journal called Where the Most Light Falls. I focus on poetry but also share excerpts from larger works as well as flash fiction and experimental pieces. I welcome your submissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What about you, my friend? Give your words and your voice to a creative adventure that speaks of your own courage, commitment, and connection. Find your art, your means of expression — if you are one of the maladjusted, let your creative efforts be your testimonial and your transition to creative activism.
Start a blog, maybe! There are many free sites that will let you get started, including Wix.com. Whatever you do, be bold. I’d love to hear about what you’ve got going.