Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Creativity at Heart of Society ... An Irish Presidency Vision

Why I Should Be President ... The Irish Times recently asked the seven candidates hoping to succeed Irish President Mary McAleese to outline why they believe they would make a good president.

In a statement of a mere 700 words, Labour Party candidate Michael D. Higgins put creativity at the heart of his vision for society, citizenship and development. Higgins also is the former Irish Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht.
  • The vision I am offering is of inclusive citizenship in a creative society, as we build a real Republic that makes us proud to be Irish in the world.
  • Everyone has a contribution to make – whatever their religion, capacity, origin, orientation or income – and inclusion also means shared responsibility, to each other and to generations yet to come. As president, I would also promote a creative society, combining the best of tradition with the spark of innovation and opening up possibilities in every area of life from education to science to business.
  • I would encourage creativity in practical ways, something I did as Ireland’s first minister for the arts in the 1990s, establishing TG4 and a network of local arts venues, and helping transform Irish film from an €11 million into a €186 million industry.
  • I see the same potential today in creative industries from games development to artisan foods. However, creativity is, most importantly, a vital part of citizenship and needs to be supported from the ground up, in our communities and schools. As president, I would encourage access to art, music and self-development for every child.
Rare is a politician who truly understands -- beyond lip service -- that the creative imagination, ideas and engagement of every citizen is the raw material that builds community, develops the economy and shapes the political process. Higgins, whose self-description includes "poet,"  deeply understands that developing and expressing one's creative self in society is how one meaningfully engages in learning, work and community. He is a prime example of this personally.

Would that the 2012 United States presidential campaign season would include such a dialogue ...

What role does/should creativity play in engaging U.S. citizens in society? How does Michael D. Higgins' vision inspire you? Is there any connection between such a vision for a creative society and what is happening with #OccupyWallStreet?

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