Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

April 27, 2014

ED VASICEK: Nuture, don't snicker at, imaginative ideas

Studies link creativity to human longevity

My wife was helping in the church camp kitchen. Some flies managed to meander in, but none of the volunteers could locate a fly swatter. So my wife took a plastic hamburger flipper, taped folded newspaper to enhance it, and created an effective exterminating weapon. While one fellow snickered at her feat, I was impressed. I love creativity.

In America, because of our “rugged individualism,” we have frequently nurtured creativity — in contrast to some cultures. Where societies are highly controlled — and where anyone different is punished — creativity is stifled. And the world loses when this is the case.

A recent article from the BBC shows how Muslim extremists are threatening the education of women in Nigeria, kidnapping the female students: “... [P]arents of 230 girls had reported them missing but 40 had managed to escape ... Islamist group Boko Haram is suspected to be behind the kidnapping but has not issued any statement ... Some 1,500 people are believed to have been killed in attacks blamed on Boko Haram this year alone ... The group, whose name means ‘Western education is forbidden’, is fighting to establish Islamic law in Nigeria. It often targets educational establishments.”

But creativity and mental exercise are good for all, even on an individual level. Studies show that active minds make for happier and healthier people. Although the Internet is a mixed blessing, it can be a portal to creativity and mental exercise. Think of the many homebound folks, for example, who can somewhat escape their limitations through the Internet. When I visit the nursing homes, I sometimes see residents surfing the Internet.

The Good News Network recently documented that Internet use can reduce depression among America’s elderly: “It’s estimated that as many as 10 million older Americans suffer from depression, often brought on by feelings of loneliness and isolation. However, new research — a project that followed the lives of thousands of retired older Americans for six years — found that Internet use among the elderly can reduce the chances of depression by more than 30 percent.”

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