On Protection and Creativity (08-03-2008)
Up until not so long ago, there used to be a rule of action which, although unwritten, every one in Auroville was keen to apply: not to receive, for Auroville, any money that had strings attached to it.
Experience had shown early on, and repeatedly, that some donors, whether individuals or institutions, were liable to use their investments in Auroville as a leverage to claim the right to influence and determine Auroville’s choices and processes according to their own designs or their own limited understanding.
The freedom to choose our orientations, the freedom to tap our own resources of creativity, the freedom to explore new expressions in all fields, were perceived as more necessary and more valuable than the immediate or short-term advantages which could be derived from any binding agreements with interested sources of funding.
However, probably due to a mixture of greed and weariness, a gradual erosion of this rule has taken place and we have let ourselves be driven to an uneasy consent to the tenets of pragmatism.
As a consequence, an increasing number of assets and buildings in Auroville are created, maintained or even built with funds that do not merely strings attached to them but full braided ropes, to the extent that one can now discern two parallel modes of development expressing themselves in the same physical space.
For instance, one could see appear a few months ago some lovely, delightful standing rocks at crossroads, sentinels to remember and greet with a simple, but refined pleasure; and just before Auroville turned 40, one saw the sudden presence of highways signboards – practical, to be sure, but hardly beautiful and rather… unsmiling!
Now, both these particular developments are no doubt well-intentioned and have required genuine efforts. But they arise from very different approaches and express very different orientations and respond to logics of manifestation which have proven so far to be incompatible in the world at large.
And this incompatibility is precisely the reason why such sites as Auroville need to be created, and to endure long enough to become able to offer new solutions to the world’s ills!
Effusive and expansive acknowledgments have just now been issued praising the remarkable creativity of Auroville in almost all areas of human activity. It would be good to remember that such creativity cannot be leashed, nor can it be directed and organized by any ordinary hierarchical structure: it will soon wilt and fail, no matter how well-meaning is the structure.
What it needs, to thrive and spread its smile and delight, is a receptive, respectful and judicious protection.