GE has a commercial about the birth of ideas where there is a personified idea that looks like a little ugly monster. It grows into an awkward adolescence and finally matures and flourishes into something beautiful, like the story of the ugly duckling.
In an interview, writer Salman Rushdie says that his famous novel The Satanic Verses is an extended reflection on the question, “How does a new idea come into the world?” He meant for it only to be incidentally about religion but new ideas often come to us in religious terms like revelations, epiphanies and inspiration.
He says that for the birth of a new idea, “you have got two tests.” You have the test of weakness. “When you’re weak,” when your idea is unpopular do you compromise, do you bend, do you give in, do you accommodate?” Do we have enough inner strength to stick by our idea when we are in the losing position?
“And then the test of strength. When you’re strong, are you merciful, are you generous, or are you cruel?” When our idea is finally vindicated, how do we treat those who opposed us or didn’t support or believe in us?
Of course, these tests are not about ideas but rather about us and how we value our new ideas and treat those who support us or not. For that reason, we now turn to prayer.
Heavenly Spirit, by your inspiration and your revelation you bring new ideas into our minds. As we receive these gifts, help us when ideas are young and weak and need us to stand by them. When you provide for their success, help us in our strength always to remain gracious, merciful and generous to those we work with and those we serve. Amen.