Law in Contemporary Society

Courageous Creativity

-- By MariaLaGumina - 19 Feb 2016

Throughout our discussions in class we have established a working hypothesis that willingness not to conform is a necessary but not sufficient condition for creativity. So what will get us from the point of willingness not to conform to actual creativity? I believe that courage is the necessary and sufficient condition for creativity.

After some hesitation I can see the benefits of not following the herd or sticking to the status quo but as I turned over this thesis and how it applies to me as a law student practically I kept coming across the same issue. The main stage to avoid the status quo is clearly in class, however every example we have discussed in our class seems to lack one thing, acknowledging the courage necessary for the task. Typically change is met with discomfort and so any attempt to break the mold in a standard lecture will result in the discomfort as seen in the example discussed in class where Professor Moglen made a joke and his fellow students responded with discomfort. I can honestly say that if I were in that position I would not have had the courage to do what Professor Moglen did and I would like to know why.

Hurdles to Creativity

As evidenced by the pushback to the risk necessary for creativity by me and my fellow classmates, there are many hurdles to creativity. One hurdle to us as law students is fear of professors. As a 1L in particular I can say that I was scared of most of my professors at the beginning of the year. Given the task of taking a risk in class I would be afraid of offending a professor and cutting off many opportunities that may help with employment in the future. In particular I feared getting a low grade due to my actions. The approaches we discussed in class always came back to fear. I realized that creative behavior may be forbidden to me due to fear that someone might respond in a hostile or offended fashion. I sometimes feel like creativity is likely to be punished and that I could not myself sense in social situations how severe the penalty for creativity might be. Sometimes it seems like there is no offsetting likelihood that people will respond positively to any ability to invent and break social molds. The hope then is that the payoff will be worth risking these bad outcomes. If the payoff wasn’t worth it then there would never be a reason to create. We would be bound by society as opposed to being free to act on our free will.

Another hurdle to creativity is the desire to maintain the status quo. For law students maintaining status quo can give a student benefits such as mutual respect between the Professor and student and also the respect of your peers in not insulting someone who has direct control over their job prospects. Even setting aside job prospects, mutual respect with a Professor could lead to future partnerships and even a potential mentoring relationship. As a new 1L the promise of these things weighs heavily in considering whether to take risks in classes. I would rather do something that will have a 75% success rate than something with a 25% success rate. Since law students tend to be practical people, just looking at the odds themselves could be a hurdle to taking the risk needed for creativity and change.

How to get courage

Even if good grades are not thought of as important to a student, the embarrassment from being berated in front of his or her peers could also be a negative outcome from breaking the mold in the wrong way. However, if criticism is to disable creativity, then we will never create anything. The point of art is that it enables criticism without disabling itself. Taking risks is not a new idea. People have been doing this for many years. Without risks we would never have change and progress. Once we accept that and we are willing to be courageous and take risks we can deal with the practical issue of how to get that courage.

While there is no easy answer for how to get courage (in fact it could even be its own course) I do think there are some steps that can be taken to incentive us to be more courageous. On a practical note I think that learning more about the pressing issues in society that could use a lawyer’s help would show the dangers of keeping things as they are. Seeing the injustices in the world will hopefully spur some of us to be more courageous.

How to cultivate creativity

Once we have the courage to take risks it can lead to the discomfort observed in class but it can also lead to more creative approaches to problems. Creativity demands some level of willingness not to conform and the way that we can cultivate the mindset necessary to create is to cultivate courage.

The approach to revision appears to have been to interleave sentences from my commentary with your text, using some linkage like "but" or "however." The result isn't an edited draft, it's a confusion.

The theme is fear of being mistreated as a reason for not doing creative work. But if this is the alternative to creative work, isn't it likely also to cause trouble for you? In which professional situation would your response to editing of this kind, which sacrifices substantive coherence to mere literal inclusion of the commentary, yield positive response?

The route to improvement begins in reverting out these changes, which didn't help strengthen the draft. Then the commentary can be considered as addressed to your ideas. You can think about the points at which we differ and decide how, if at all, to modify your own ideas in order to respond to, not adopt by mimicry, someone else's point of view. Perhaps from there the idea of creating without fearing reprisal will have some credibility it still has not acquired for you.

Outcome: willingness → courage → creativity


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r4 - 04 Jun 2016 - 20:08:17 - EbenMoglen
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