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Creativity in the Lions' Den

CREATIVITY IN THE LIONS' DEN: Releasing Our Children from Violence, A Peace Empowerment Process for the Artist in Everyone
(ISBN 0-9667303-0-5)

is a new book by Carolyna Marks, the founder of the World Wall for Peace. Images of the front and back cover and the introduction of the book follow. The book has been endorsed by Ron Dellums, Angeles Arien, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Whitney Gilbert Ferré: endorsements.

To order a copy, contact the World Wall for Peace.

Click on the images to see larger images of the front and back covers.

Front Cover Small.JPG 

Back Cover Small.JPG 


Within each of our children, within each of us, there is a creative and life-affirming power. A high resource of our humanity, it unifies us across all religions and cultures, while including and respecting all our differences. I call this power "the artist within each of us," and it is the source of our ability to create our lives in positive and expansive ways, to choose love over fear, to respond with the excitement of creativity rather than reacting and closing down. The Artist in Everyone knows that the essence of every creative act is bringing together opposites and differences. With endless creativity this communicator in each of us can courageously make a creative act out of something as simple as a phone call or as big and heroic as facing our life challenges.

My belief that the Artist in Everyone has the power to create a peaceful world first gave rise to my vision of the World Wall for Peace, with segments being created by communities in every nation. Out of the beginnings of this now-thriving endeavour grew this Peace Empowerment Process (PEP), a way of thinking and believing and acting that empowers young people to use their creativity in a way that leads to personal fulfillment and positive social engagement.

Peace is creativity in action. It is the dynamic quality of love and goodwill that is the basis of all life. It is in and through peace that our children can live the fullness of their potential. Yet today, as the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates collectively express,* “"Too many children live a ‘culture of violence'.” Whether they are conscious of it or not, the violence that permeates our society freezes our children and young people in a state of fear, surrenders them to negativity, and stops the love in them from blossoming. Through violent films and fear-inducing news, through crimes on our streets, in our  schools and in our neighborhoods, through habitual anger and negativity in our families, through insults and competitive put-downs, our children, no matter what class or economic group, daily face the lions of violence—and many don't know how to find the love and hope to generate a different and more positive way of being. By awakening and supporting the treasure of tremendous creativity within each of them, we can teach them how to "close the mouths of the lions." Like Daniel in the Lions' Den, in the story from the Judeo-Christian bible, they can learn how to pass through the dark night unharmed.

As a child I found great comfort in the story of Daniel. Lions were creatures I both loved and feared, and I greatly admired this boy, whom I percieved to be a child like me, for his courage and power to tame them.. When my father would yell at me to stop reading and go to sleep, when relationships with children at school were rough, or when my older brothers mercilessly teased me, I would turn to Daniel for inspiration on how to respond. Daniel remained true to himself and his beliefs in face of all threats. He had an angel as an ally to protect him. Instead of reacting with fear, he made peace with the beasts by approaching them with love. Like Daniel, I could "close the mouths" of the problems and challenges that were my own "lions." Although the fears of my own childhood were mild compared to what many children today face, the ways we can choose to deal with our problems are essentially the same. In face of challenges, we can either react with fear or we can respond with creativity and love.

Another story, "Androcles and the Lion," also fed my belief in the power of positive response. Androcles, a child of ancient Greece, overcame his fear in order to remove a thorn from the paw of a lion. Later when both found themselves in the gladiator's ring together, the lion remembered the kindness and did Androcles no harm. In both stories these children overcame their reactivity and turned to their creative capacity to find a positive way to respond, which lead to their release from potential violence. They triumphed as peacemakers.

In all our relationships, from personal to global, our mistake has been to believe that violence is our only option when we feel threatened. But violence is a disease, a disease that arises out of excessive fear. The artist within is our peacemaker, and creativity is the cure it offers for the disease of violence. The Peace Empowerment Process (PEP) offered in this book shows young people ways to discover their own power to bring peace alive in their lives everyday. It teaches them that, rather than getting stuck in fear, they can use fear as information and go on to solve their problems creatively.

The first part of Creativity in the Lions' Den  tells how the Peace Empowerment Process was born and describes the principles on which it is based. The second part is for teachers, parents, and anyone who works with young people and longs to learn with them the values and wisdom that will make a difference in our world. The Earth, Air, Fire and Water of Peace in this section offers children a way to understand their connection to the Earth we all share in, while also presenting a whole and tangible system of values to live by. Following this, the Blueprint of Emotional Wisdom provides a cross-cultural map of basic human feelings to guide children in learning about and understanding their emotions so that they can use them in positive ways. Throughout this second part of the book, stories and exercises teach young people how to awaken their powerful, peacemaker artist within.

Sometimes the Peace Empowerment Process leads to the creation of magnificent segments of the World Wall for Peace, which are located in several cities of the United States and in countries around the world. The Peace Wall, created by the Artist in Everyone as it expresses itself through people of all ages and backgrounds, demonstrates the coming together of the hopes, dreams and desires of a community. But as I have seen over and over, the process is more important than the product, and the PEP stands on its own as an effective way to teach young people the power of making healthy, creative choices.

In response to the suffering our children undergo in the hands of violence, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates have declared that the new millenium will begin with a "Decade for a Culture of Non-Violence." I join parents, teachers and communities in this wonderful endeavour by offering Creativity in the Lions' Den  as a way to make children, in the words of the Laureates, "aware of the real, practical meaning and benefits of non-violence in their daily lives."

Once children open up their internal goldmine of creativity, violence becomes a street they themselves never choose to walk down, because it interrupts the excitement and euphoria of acting on their great ideas, creative passions, and cherished authenticity. The issue is no longer one of preventing violence through a set of "do's and don'ts," rights and wrongs. There is simply no interest in violence. There is only the ongoing, regenerative, natural, internal "high" of creativity that enlivens their power and their peace.

The same species that invented war is capable of inventing peace. If we can transplant hearts from one body into another and make trips to the moon, we can make discoveries in wisdom, ethics and human behavior and join with our children to live accordingly. Together with them we can close the mouths of the lions and turn the fearsome den into a place of cooperation and friendship.

Carolyna Marks
Berkeley, California, 1998

*From "Appeal of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates: Share with the Children of the World" to the Heads of State of all member countries of the General Assembly of the United Nations, July 1, 1997.

Endorsements of Creativity in the Lions’ Den, by Ron Dellums, Angeles Arien, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Whitney Gilbert Ferré: