“it’s our inner critic that serves as the world's most powerful deterrent to artistic expression, or any kind of self-expression, for that matter.” Patricia Kokinos commenting on Talks Elizabeth Gilbert: A different way to think about creative genius on TED.
Creativity is scary because it leads to ideas. Ideas come about from questioning, wondering why, trying alternatives, and imagining possibilities.
Ideas threaten the status quo, the established norms, the comfort of the “always has been”. In doing so, ideas threaten those who wield power in the current status quo; those who stand most to gain by resisting change.
Key causes of self-censorship:
- Societal systems and structures – the caste system in India, the strong hierarchy pressure of Confucius cultures like Singapore.
- Political systems – totalitarian countries like North Korea, strongly conformist legal systems like that in some Middle Eastern countries.
- Religious dogma and organisations – fundamentalist religions seeking political power through cultural infiltration or fear.
- Other beliefs – accepted definitions of masculinity/femininity, concepts of success and failure.
- Personality disorders – innate thinking patterns that magnifies our fear of rejection, the avoidance of discord, and the need to be right.
These tap into our strong, built-in fear of rejection. As social animals, we are very concerned with wanting to belong, to be valued. We naturally seek to avoid the negative judgements of others around us.
Of course, we can choose to free ourselves from these limitations. Or not.
The censorship of ideas ultimately impoverishes humanity. If Europe had not shaken itself free of the shackles of the church, we would still be enjoying the appalling standards of health, lifestyle and other "freedoms" of the Dark Ages. Disturbingly, the recent rise of Creationism, Intelligent Design and other fundamentalist religious movements are threatening to take us right back there – going by the actions of these groups.
At the end of the day, we all get a choice. What is yours?