‘Goodness isn’t sameness. Goodness, to be goodness, needs contrast and tension, not perfect uniformity.’*
In his book Heroic Leadership Chris Lowney writes about how the early Jesuits each thought they were doing the most important thing in the world: mathematicians, astronomers, scientists, teachers … . This encourages me: the possibility of seeing what we do in this way in a world welcoming diversity over uniformity.
In The Craftsman Richard Sennett tells of the anonymous nature of the craftsman-builder’s work in the Roman world, how to ‘get the houses, roads, and sewers to function […] improvisation occurred on the ground’.**
It was an opportunity to make their mark, to say “I exist”:
‘A maker’s mark is a peculiar sign. […] Many of the adaptive irregularities in Roman brickwork modulated into expressive decoration, tiny flourishes like a figured tile mortared over an imperfect joint behind the surface. These also can be considered a maker’s mark.’**
Even in such an oppressive system as this, a person’s individuality and need to make a mark in the world manages to express itself.
At some point in their lives, I hope we all feel what Alex McManus describes as the ‘burden of responsibility, mystery, and paradox that it is to be human?^
These words from Seth Godin urge us to practise our peculiar way of seeing things and working:
‘Do the emotional work of working on things that others fear.’^^
I hope there’s a knock-on effect to this. When we turn our passion, through imagination and innovation, into the best thing in the world then it becomes the foundation for someone else to pursue theirs.