2.14 The Consumption/Creation Principle

Back to 2.13 The Means/Ends Principle

2.14.1 This isn’t so much a principle per se, but rather a general concept that’s often wise to keep in mind. In general, the Consumption/Creation Principle means that in life we often spend our time doing one of two things: consuming or creating.

2.14.2 By consumption, I mean to include not only the obvious example of food and air, but the interpersonal and intellectual instances as well. These may include reading, listening to music, attending a speaking event, watching a motion picture, learning, etc. While consumption in any form can get out of hand, consumption itself is not viewed as a negative thing. Not only is it necessary in many cases, and not only does it enhance enjoyment of life, but consumption also provides the "fuel" for creation. Just as caloric intake gives the energy that might be used to carry clothing to the poor, intellectual intake provides the knowledge needed to create other works and share ideas. Like caloric intake, intellectual intake vs. productivity can reach an imbalance as well. It is often tempting to read, learn, watch and listen to all sorts of entertaining things. But where does this get us if we never turn around and teach, share, help others, or work towards achieving the tasks that this knowledge demands of us?

2.14.3 By creation, I literally mean action in the world towards some good, no matter the degree. This may include: helping the needy, teaching the ignorant, writing, discussing, working, raising good children, fulfilling marital, family, and friendship obligations, producing art, entertaining, loving, building, etc. If we do nothing but consume, all of the knowledge, reason, learning, experiences, food, shelter, and resources used on us are lost. We are like a singularity, or a black hole - a bottomless pit. However, there can also be consumption/creation imbalances leaning towards too much creation. For example, if a person writes prolifically but never reads, s/he runs the risk of blabbering on about matters which s/he knows nothing about. Open mouths and closed ears may create a lot, but that which is created will rarely have value. Many people are full of opinions, but only those opinions based on a healthy background of knowledge are of any importance. As mentioned above, consumption (in this example, learning) is a necessary component of creation (in this example, teaching).

2.14.4 So, what if we are not talented? Everyone is talented at something. Furthermore, everyone is capable of helping others, even if only to offer a smile and a kind word. The manner in which we create need not be a grand contribution, such as penning the Declaration of Independence or formulating the Theory of Relativity. These forms of creation I think of as broad and shallow, in that they affect large numbers in a less personal way, however, equally as important.

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