editorial: The Relevance Issue

zamantungwa | May 9th, 2011 | editorial | No Comments

“To poison a nation, poison its stories. A demoralised nation tells demoralised stories to itself. Beware of the storytellers who are not fully conscious of the importance of their gifts, and who are irresponsible in the application of their art: they”
~Ben Okri


something i’ve been contemplating for months now, maybe even years. i’ve been concerned about the type of contribution i have been making to society as a writer, as a creative. i worry that my energies are not focussed in the right direction. i worry that there are too many creatives out there working really hard but not at something they are proud of. there are too many of us working for a pay cheque.

just for a pay cheque.

because too many people work just for a pay cheque and not for something they truly believe in or are proud of there are too many disillusioned minds. i find that problematic. to take a twist on the Okri quote – disillusioned minds nurture disillusionment. so even as we are trying to inspire, teach, entertain we only end up reinforcing a darkness in the minds of our readers and audiences – if we are disillusioned.

i think that there are way to many things floating out there that do nothing but nurture a spirit of mediocrity. someone out there in the far past, someone who’s name we don’t know, duped the entire world into believing that we didn’t have to be brilliant. that brilliance was just for a few people that if we didn’t achieve this brilliance by the time we were a certain age then we’d never make it. so often people that achieve their brilliance in their childhood, or teens or early twenties are held up for the rest of us to envy. and then we are left feeling like we’ll never reach our own brilliance. that’s not true. it’s only a ploy to make you give up and remain in the rat race. society has already raised you to be in the rat race and never have the capacity to pursue any other kind of living.

the question is how do we redirect our efforts away from mediocrity to something of relevance? something nurturing and powerfully positive.

creatives have a direct line to the heart of society. it is through creative work that society’s ideas, values, beliefs (good, bad or ugly) are explored discussed and subsequently reinforced and cemented. so if we creatives are working on the side of ill then we only reinforce and strengthen society’s ills. we do not heal the ills. and that’s what we could be doing as creatives.

Seth Godin says “do work that matters.”

so i’m on a bit of a mission this year. i’m refocusing all of my creative energy to something good. something that matters. not only to me but to the people that are touched by my work. while i personally want to do work i can be proud of, i also want to see all of us do work that makes us a better people not drones in a race where only a few ever benefit. we have the direct line to the heart of society. we all have an important role to play whether we play the role under the flashlights of paparazzi cameras or in the background remaining nameless.

as my new favourite creatives at ‘workisnotajob.’ say:

we are the shapers of cultures, the workers for change, the dreamers of dreams



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