UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Photo of Diane D'Souza

Creative and powerful

Einstein rated creativity and imagination over knowledge. We need both.

By Carolyn Pogue

Diane D’Souza is one of the most creative people I know. Not only is she a visual artist and an adjunct professor at Suffolk University in Boston, but she is also a visionary. Happily for me, this year began with a visit from her.

When Diane lived in Hyderabad, India, she was associate director at the Henry Martyn Interfaith Institute, a United Church partner. In the 1990s, Rev. Bruce Gregersen visited on behalf of our denomination. Over coffee, Diane and Bruce discussed interfaith work because at that time (and perhaps even now), it was mostly a men’s domain. Together, they asked the question: how might women do it differently?

The answer was the Women’s Interfaith Journey. Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Cree travelled from Canada to India in 1998 to meet met with our Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Tribal counterparts. With Diane as facilitator, we journeyed to six cities over three weeks, carrying each other’s luggage, drying each other’s tears, ranting, dancing, laughing and singing. We visited peace builders, professors, nurses, educators, NGOs and healers.

Nine months later, we travelled in Canada, ending up in Beausejour, Man., at the Dr. Jessie Saulteaux Centre. I hardly remember talking about religion; rather, we created art and shared rituals, stories and our lives.

The Women’s Interfaith Journey changed all of us. After that experience, my heart knew that creativity feeds change. We met women, for example, who were tired of the police ignoring family violence complaints. So 12 formed a society, printed identity cards, stamped and laminated them. The next time there was a beating, they accompanied the victim to the police station. Flashing their cards, they announced that unless the officers took proper action, they would return with 200 friends. Einstein rated creativity above knowledge. We need both.

I celebrate creativity watching Abigail Disney’s award-winning documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell. It’s the story of how Liberian women blocked the door (and windows) when warring factions tried to leave peace talks. The women had T-shirts made proclaiming an end to the war. As one said later, “When I wear this T-shirt, I am powerful!” They were so powerful in fact, that they soon elected Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman to become a president in Africa.

Diane went on to create and facilitate Women’s Interfaith Journeys in India, Kenya, South Africa and Sri Lanka. Today she continues to encourage people to explore change, peace and conflict resolution all over the world.

Diane’s visits always set me to dreaming. I dream of a world where each of us remembers we are creative and powerful. An unknown artist wrote, “We are angels. We have forgotten these things.” Entering 2011, I want to remember.


Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Interviews

Courtesy of Pixabay

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Promotional Image

Editorials

Jocelyn Bell%

Observations: It’s a long road toward full equality for women

by Jocelyn Bell

'It’s a wonder that we continue to see male ministers as normative and attach shame to female ministers’ biology and sexuality.'

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Playing by Heart

by Observer Staff

United Church music director Kara Shaw was born prematurely, became almost totally blind and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Today, the 28-year-old showcases her unique musical ability, performing piano on local and national stages.

Promotional Image

Faith

May 2018

Toronto church builds interfaith friendship

by Vivien Fellegi

Faith

May 2018

This parent found no support for her autistic daughter — and decided to change that

by Kieran Delamont

Suzanne Allen talks about raising a daughter on the autism spectrum and bringing all autistic girls together

Faith

May 2018

Church retreat helps first responders with PTSD

by Joe Martelle

Interviews

May 2018

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Ethics

May 2018

Pregnant in the pulpit

by Trisha Elliott

Ministers who take a maternity leave still face discrimination in their own congregations

Interviews

May 2018

The two words Rev. Cheri DiNovo wants to hear from the United Church

by Alex Mlynek

The Toronto minister talks about her disappointment over the church’s silence when she officiated the country’s first legalized same-sex marriage 17 years ago – and why she wants an apology.

Promotional Image