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May 2017

by Dorothea S McArthur Ph.D., ABPP

Richard Bolles said it well in The Job Hunter’s Survival Guide:

How did this world get into the economic mess it is currently in? Well, to speak in glittering generalities, far too many of us, (both individuals and nations) spent too much, borrowed too much, lived too high, saved too little, invested with too much risk, and played a Ponzi scheme with nature. When all of this came crashing down, the consequences affected not just ourselves, but also others around the world. You end up with all of us in the same boat. What any of us decides to do has consequences for others, not just ourselves.

“Capitalism” and “democracy” should never mean getting whatever you want for yourself with no regard for the negative impact it may have on others.

I hope that we can learn from the 2008-2011 recession that we must replace greed with compassion, generosity, and integrity in a way that markedly reduces the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor. My richer clients remind me that greed does not make anyone happy; it only drives each person to aggressively leap for more. Compassion and integrity teach us that we can only be truly happy when we can create and reside in a world where everyone has, at least, the basics. Giving brings more peace, happiness, and contentment than receiving, and makes the world safer for all of us. The overall goal towards contentment is achieved through the absence of needless suffering for any person. Relationships are about sharing, within a healthy competitive motivation rather than a greedy survival of the fittest. Volunteering brings forth depth and meaning. We can only maintain and truly enjoy nature and the beauty of our earth if we all contribute collectively to taking care of the planet.

We have tried to regulate the world with religious beliefs, but fighting over which doctrine is the best has caused more death from religious wars than nature’s natural disasters.

We have tried to win what we want with military aggression, but that solution blows up cities, soldiers, innocent people and negatively affects the environment.

We have elected politicians to run out nations but they find themselves quickly in a conflict of interest because they have to limit themselves to voting for what will get them more money and on the right committees then to be re-elected.

We have allowed cities, states and nations to go into horrendous debt. We then argue and bail ourselves out by turning a blind eye while cutting services to the poor, disabled, youth, prisoners, and elderly in need for the sake of preserving the bonuses and golden parachutes at the top of our corporations and governments.

As a culture, we have dismissed our artists as “struggling” and “starving” out of feelings of threat and jealousy. Therefore, we have not considered artists as a powerful independent resource with new creative ideas for the leaders of the cities, states, and nations solving problems for the collective good of all of us and the preservation of a cultural heritage and a rich planet.

Why should we give artists a try?

Denise Shekerjian interviewed forty artists who were winners of the McArthur Foundation Award. She then wrote a book entitled Uncommon Genius. How Great Ideas Are Born. She describes many aspects of the Creative Impulse. Some are direct quotes from the artists she interviewed. In summary, these artists have the ability to:

1. “look sideways at problems” p. xvii

2. “produces an effective surprise”p. xvii

3. “look at the same thing as everybody else but see something different” p. xvii

4. “take unremarkable parts to create an unforgettable whole” p. xvii

5. “believe in the importance of living right and being thankful and grateful.” p. 28

6. “pay proper heed to the long dance with uncertainty that precedes most creative breakthroughs . . . the very soil from which the creative flower blooms.”  p. 32

7. refuse to “lust after quick outcomes or definitive bottom lines.” p. 33

8. have a “lightness of spirit that yields fruits of imagination.” p. 33

9. “never accept any form of constraint but immediately move out beyond it.
. . .‘can’t’ simply is not acceptable.” p .132

10. understand artists place in the society, “If I am not for myself, who will I be? If I am only for myself, what am I?” p. 202

11. “when a problem seems intractable, leave it, come back to it, leave it again, and again return; invest
yourself in the vision, focusing not just on the goal, but on the process.” p. 209

Artists themselves say:

12. “aim myself true.” p. 28

13. “If your mind is right, have things fall into place.” p .28

14. I consciously choose and accept the rejection of being non-mainstream. Instead, I seek “a few sustaining words at the right time from a true friend. With a true friend the bruises fade, the wounds heal, and the work can continue.” p. 198

15. I understand living. “So, if something difficult happens to me, I try to welcome it, accept it, work with it. I treat it as what is happening now. I don’t get too excited by my victories, or too disappointed by my defeats, and in that way I come closer to peace of mind and that deep inner place that creativity comes from.” p. 203

The MacArthur Foundation has been working silently for many years to identify artists and then give them the support, without constraints, that is needed to accomplish their creative goals. Many artists have now received their award.  With a seven billion dollar budget, they have also been able to fund many social projects in the United States and around the world that promote equality. Artists have served within United States Cabinet positions.

Would the President be willing to invite MacArthur Foundation to gather some of its interested artists to come together to look at the financial, health, equality and environmental problems we are trying to solve at the present time? Would their input give us new ways to tackle the challenging issues of today?

What would happen if artists and corporate leaders began to talk with each other? Could that ever happen? Both might benefit from learning unknown skills and expertise from each other. Could the present administration restrict bailout funds for bonuses within the corporate world and instead apply more funds to remove our artists from the “starving” and “struggling” ranks so that they could also continue to speak out individually?



Dr. McArthur is a Diplomate psychotherapist practicing in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles. She is the founding member and President of the Independent Psychotherapy Network.  You can contact her at 323-663-2340 or  See and


Copyright 2017 by Dorothea S McArthur, Ph.D., ABPP


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