Creation and Destruction Group Guide

Volume X, Number II

Artwork by Amy Liu

In this issue, KidSpirit writers and artists dive into the fundamental nature of life and loss. Journey with them from the beginnings of the universe to the demise of all we know, as they explore the infinite meanings of birth and death in our world and beyond. Are we ultimately creators or destroyers? What drives us to knock things down or build them up? Can birth exist without death? All these questions and more lie at the heart of our lives and today’s discussion.

1. Zainab Umar responds to the editors’ Big Question: “Are Creation and Destruction Part of What Makes Us Human?” With a vibrant illustration of her hometown, Zainab brings to life the delicate balance between lush landscapes and depleted resources, art and war, love and hate. Ultimately, she concludes that each of us must weigh the repercussions of our actions and make thoughtful choices about what we give to or take from the world. Recall an instance from your life when you chose to be creative, as well as one when you chose to be destructive. Why did you make the decisions you did? How did your actions impact you and others? Would you repeat them today? Why or why not?

2. In the Features section, Caroline Hochman takes an unexpected look at creativity. Read her piece “Destruction: The Key to Art?” and think about her conclusion that loss and tragedy often underlie our most beautiful work. Put her theory to the test by listing your three favorite songs. Can you find a way destruction contributes to each one? Swap lists with a friend and see if you spot any similar themes. Why do you think these ideas have inspired such amazing art?

3. The Interfaith Connections department features writers from three different walks of life who find that creation and destruction are two sides of the same coin. Consider Aditya Naik’s piece “A Matter of Perspective” and reflect on an event from your life, history, or current events. Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper; write down all the ways that event was creative on one side, and all the ways it was destructive on the other. Try to come up with at least two items in each column. Then discuss your list with your neighbor. Were all the event’s effects apparent to you before you began this exercise, or did you discover a new angle?

4. “I believe that redemption is possible, and every situation has within it something that can teach us, something that can lead us to our natural wisdom,” writes Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD, a Buddhist teacher and anthropologist who offers this issue’s PerSpectives column. She calls us to go beyond our comfort zones and embrace difficult times as a method to learn about ourselves and others. Think of a particularly powerful book or movie where the protagonist is in a troubling or scary situation. What does he or she discover? How does the experience change the character’s outlook on life? Do you see any parallels with an anecdote from your own life?