Sunday, 4 May 2014

Creativity and Conformity

-Brian Mendonça

It was one of those days at work. For a long time the research journal of our institution had been lying defunct.  It had a glimmer of glory for two issues and then ceased publication for almost a decade. When I was one of a team entrusted the task to resurrect it I approached it warily. How could I inject new enthusiasm into the status quo for a venture which was already on the rocks with a morass of misgiving? Still.

Had I not conceived the bulletin of the institution three years ago and was one of the founding editors? And was I not on the team which turned out the institution’s annual magazine last year. True, some found it drab since it was low on colour pages, but given the budget it fitted in nicely – without ads. Curiously I am waylaid in the corridors by colleagues with whom I hardly have a chance of interacting, calling out, ’Brian, we have sent you updates for the bulletin. Please check.’ Or, ‘Should I send the sports report for the magazine to you?’ And then I have to gently tell them, ‘So-and-so is handling the bulletin / magazine.’

Now that our team for the research journal (appointed by the institution) is planning to bring out its first issue I took the opportunity to call for the cooperation of my colleagues at a meeting. The moment I sat down the prime mover of the earlier version of the journal asked ‘Why was the name of the journal changed?’ It was pointed out to the person that since there was no continuity we were required by the issuing authorities to seek a fresh mandate to obtain the International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) – something which the earlier journal did not have.  Visibly miffed, the person virtually declared the fledgling venture persona non grata by saying no one would want to submit a paper for a journal which has just started without an ISSN number. I said this is precisely the attitude we have to change and we did not need the negative energy in the first place. Besides, the credibility of a publication in the first place was that it had to be published. So now when some others were taking the initiative why sulk?

I realized that to bring about positive change we need to be creative rather than conformist.  ‘Our life is based on imitation, so we are not individuals at all . . . When we use the experience of another, however true, as the pattern for our action it is founded on imitation, and that action is a lie. . .’ says J. Krishnamurti. Epictetus in his Art of Living says, ‘Don’t be afraid of verbal abuse or criticism. . . Let the quality of your deeds speak on your behalf. We can’t control the impressions others form about us and the effort to do so only debases our character.’ These words calmed me and renewed my purpose.
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender St. Inez, Goa on Sunday 4 May 2014. Pix.Krishnamurti addresses an audience in California; www(dot)

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