an epitaph for justice

the mother of creativity

The proverb is one many of us know: “necessity is the mother of invention.” Yet within this proposed axiom lies a darker truth – that chaos is what ushers forth creation. This myth is as old as human history, with the Enūma Eliš recounting how the desecration of Tiamat, a goddess and mother who represents chaos, gives birth to the creation of the heavens and the earth, the rivers and the stars. 

Yet in the account of Genesis, we see how creation takes place not because of chaos, but because of an outpouring of love. As the Trinitarian Creator spoke, “it was good.” Man was created not to serve the gods, but because God’s love overflowed to those made in His image. Soon after, of course, man created the first clothes. The need? They were naked. The cause? Having acted to separate themselves from their Creator. The means? Through destroying the life of a fellow creature to attempt atonement.

Alfred North Whitehead, an English mathematician and philosopher, wrote that “necessity is the mother of futile dodges.” What comes through “necessity” is not true creativity, but a shadow. Beauty and love are not born through chaos, but beget by Love itself. 

This truth is sadly non-resonant within the very communities that claim to follow the loving, creative God. A “dignity of work” is twisted into a “dignity of suffering, struggling to put food on the table while working multiple jobs, being sucked into a whirlwind of debt, living on the edge of chaos.” If man has no need, then would he not live a life of laziness? If man is not forced to work, then would he not simply be a drain on society?

This line of thinking strikes against the justice of God, who created with interdependence embedded into to the source code of life. We must rely upon the rest of creation for sustenance, we must rely upon one another for support, we must rely upon the Creator for salvation. It is only through this interdependence, this common love, this foundation of support that we are able to create further beauty. 

In our current era, the dignity of being must be made explicit. Human life is sacred, from conception to natural death and all the parts in between. We live in a consumerist, competitive world that thrives on chaos and sees it as a form of beauty (see the side hustle and the gig economy), but chaos only begets more chaos and death. We know its impact on our lives, our friends, our communities – how many GoFundMe campaigns have we seen for basic needs, including healthcare?

The time for an unconditional, universal basic income is now. Studies after studies have shown the efficacy of universal basic income in improving the quality of life, the quality of being for families, and especially children. From Pope Francis to Mitt Romney, leaders around the world see the value of unconditional payments for the common good. People don’t work more, they work better – choosing to try new opportunities or spend time on the things we really say matter but devalue financially such as caring for family.

Unconditional basic income begets the dignity of being. And this unconditional love for our fellow humans, our common humanity, will be the mother of new beauty and creativity.