Total Pageviews

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Silence of Imagination

As with the pattern we have been following, the virtue of "silence of the imagination" calls us to cultivate a rich imagination that can be applied to making our lives and the world a better place. As Fr. Lackner writes in Virtues for the Mission, "Only through the exercise of imagination can we reconfigure situations and free ourselves for new possibilities." I would illustrate this with an example:

In the 1960s, India had serious food shortages that threatened to starve millions of people. Many economists said that India would never be able to feed itself. But Norman Borlaug, a scientist, developed a unique strain of wheat, called Dwarf Wheat, that had high yields of grain with a shorter stalk, so it didn't fall over in softer soil. Dwarf Wheat was grown in India and changed the course of a nation, and saved millions of people from dying of starvation. But the key here is that Borlaug could imagine something that no one else had considered possible before him. He used the power of his imagination to create a better world.

Fr. Lackner also points out that one way of exercising this virtue is by reading fiction and "going into" the characters. This kind of close reading, during which we begin to identify with characters: their emotions, thoughts, experiences, etc., is one way of developing empathy, and of de-centering the self. It's a way to remind ourselves that we are not the beginning and the end, and to help us become aware of others.

Imagination, when directed in a wholesome way can be a powerful tool for good in the world. It can expand our vision of what is possible, give us hope for the future, and help us live more fully the life of Christ.

No comments:

Post a Comment