(Continued from here.)
But order for order's sake is rarely celebrated in popular culture, which characterizes individuality as inspired, excessive unpredictable, random--messy. Organization and neatness, on the other hand, are necessary evils to increase productivity, not creativity. Stereotypes equate brilliance with disarray: the writer composing her magnum opus in a room filled with crumpled paper and overflowing wastebaskets, the unshowered genius in paint-stained clothes. Yet the first and ultimate act of creativity turned chaos into symmetrical halves of up and down, light and dark. Other cultures (Japan, for example) value this kind of neat brilliance so much more than ours, where sparse, uncluttered design is often seen as haughty, unemotional, elite.
At services on Shabbat morning, the rabbi spoke of the negative connotation in our American society of the idea of "being commanded." We do respect our lawful society--when we agree with it. We fulfill our responsibilities and citizens and volunteer to make the world a better place--when we want to. But doing good because we have to, because our tradition orders us, suggests the imposition of rules and order when we would prefer to think for ourselves. Free will is incompatible with coloring inside the lines.
(To be continued.)