Creating in a hostile climate

  • The world is terrifying right now. There are so many big issues, so much that needs changing, that any small creative act seems too little in the face of it all. We may feel guilty about not undertaking other forms of activism, we may feel our art *should* be able to do more and be frustrated that it can’t. The climate is not a good one in which to be a sensitive and creative person.

Logically I know what the answers to this are – it’s just that emotionally I can’t get it to work (yet). The answer is to think about the kind of world we want to live in, and act as individuals, and in groups, to make that real. The shit out there is nothing more than the cumulative effects of other people, deliberately and cluelessly doing stuff. We can push back. All forms of creativity can be a valid form of pushback.

I suspect the reasons I struggle emotionally is because I’m often attracted to whimsy and small acts of silliness. Small beauties, small projects, small publishing houses… I know my scale, and my very sense of where I belong conflicts with the need to be doing more. I have to work on this.

Like many people, I’ve been exposed to the folk who say ‘why are you even bothering with that when this is so much more important? Why help refugees and not feed the homeless? I have to keep reminding myself that these statements are made purely to derail by people who do nothing to help anyone. People who just spend their time knocking other people down. But they’re like toxins thrown in the ocean – my personal ocean may be bigger than them, but it still feels the effects.

One of the things we can do collectively is to affirm that each other’s contributions are good. That any small act of good, any kindness, any generosity or warmth or expression of hope, any good idea, or effort in the right direction is good, and welcome and wanted. I’m reminded of an anecdotal activist in the habit of shouting ‘don’t you want a future’ into the faces of people who do not agree with him. We have to not be that guy. We have to be the opposite of that guy, because well intended demands to do more can grind people down just effectively as trolling does. Always demanding that other people do more does not make for a better world or even get the outcomes we may seek. We have to help each other to do more, inspire and encourage each other to do more. If we lift each other, and support each other, we can do far, far more than if we pick holes in each other. And we can, with small good things, shared and appreciated.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed with ideas, experiences, shared what’s working and what isn’t. I was paralysed for a long time by what was happening with my creativity, I could not have started a rethink alone.


About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

11 responses to “Creating in a hostile climate

  • juliebond

    Wise words. Thank-you!

  • Tracy Kruse

    I too felt that my small creative acts were too insignificant and yet some of them were huge for me to even accomplish through all the other struggles of health or money or perceived limitations. In the end, I am a tiny fish in a small pond, but if what I am able to do is infused with heart and love, even that seems to make a difference. It comes to me from those who have received, in story or simple thank yous. There is so much judgement about what we feel we do not do (ego) or what someone else wants us to do (their ego) and how it all relates, in the end, to power and control. If I grow lettuce, the tiny plants ask only for water and soil and they do the hard part. So it is if I allow all the other parts to do whatever their part is, in the best way that they can do so, I find that all the pressure cooker goes away. I am also of an age where I am oh so ready and willing to step back and allow a younger back, a more agile mind to have the creative reins for the world, and to stand as witness and perhaps as crone when asked, if asked for wisdom. And silliness and whimsy, amidst all the seriousness seems so appropriate to my mind as well, because simple joy in creating is unabashedly heart-filled and loving and that might just be where we find our Unity.

  • Ryan C.

    It often seems the case that the people who say things like “why do [x thing] when you could be helping the homeless?” tend to be the very sort of people who do neither. Besides, the very fact that the world is an increasingly scary place means we need “small acts of silliness” even more, to lift our spirits.

  • Prepping is for Women

    Like you, Nimue, I’ve been paralyzed, by being with my father while he died, then dealing with family. That involved being yelled at by a nephew because I didn’t agree with his Leftist views. That transitioned into just going in circles. The blind rage and outright hate that is being spewed into our world is staggering.I want to do something to offset this, but fear the people screaming in my face.
    All things considered, I’ve withdrawn into myself and locked up. I tried to write so many other things here and just couldn’t do it.
    We do need to unite our voices in calm and beauty to remind those screamers that hate won’t win. Hate can’t win or we are looking at a very sad and ugly future.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    What is wrong with small acts of silliness? Isn’t rough times when people most need a good laugh?

    As I mentioned before, even in my business, I feel that making people laugh, and giving them encouragement is far more important than if I make a sale or not.

  • Bookworm

    One small step can be the beginning of a thousand mile journey😊

  • Linda Davis


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