Here at Fluid UI, our mission is to unlock the world’s creativity. We want any person, regardless of religion, creed, location, ability or experience to be able to create and share their ideas with others. We write often about topics we care deeply about - from the ethics of design to designing for accessibility or dealing with colour blindness. We support worthwhile organisations like Girls who code and Luma Labs. It’s part of who we are.
We’re also lucky to have a multi-cultural team contribute to every part of the Fluid UI vision. Founded in Ireland, we’ve worked entirely online from the very start. I feel personally honoured to have worked with passionate and creative people from Poland, Romania, Russia, the Ukraine, Brazil, Colombia, Nigeria, the Philippines and more. Each person - no matter where they were born - has contributed in their own unique way to what Fluid UI has become. I would not change that for the world.
My goal here is not a self-indulgent pat on the back however.
I want to express my strong belief that no matter where a person comes from, no matter what path they walk in life - if they are given a real and meaningful opportunity to express themselves in a creative and positive way - through art, design, business, or just in the important job of building a better life for their family, they will seize that opportunity.
When people are given a fair chance to create - they choose to do just that. It is only when they can’t, when they are left with no option but to strike out against fair opportunities denied to them, that they choose to deny the same opportunity to others. If your life is torn apart by destruction and hate, then you spawn hate towards others, and this hate - left unchecked - then starts an ugly journey of being passed down from generation to generation.
I had the good fortune to attend a Google sponsored programme called Blackbox Connect in November 2016. This programme brought together startups from many parts of the world including Canada, Europe, Pakistan, China, South Korea and Australia to learn about “the Silicon Valley way of doing business”.
Two startups in particular humbled me from my time there.
Baskalet Games from Gaza missed their first week due to difficulties in acquiring visas. After finally getting through, I talked to Osayd Madi, a quiet and principled individual who had just travelled abroad for the first time in his life. Faced with blockades, violence, suffering and serious travel restrictions every day, he nonetheless aspired to create, not destroy.
Margaret Nanyombi from Uganda was building a healthkit for women who live in rural Africa with limited access to healthcare. It can detect a number of bacterial diseases and reduces the risk of getting HIV in a country where one person in every 14 is infected. I was left wondering how the work I do on Fluid UI every day could compare to this noble goal. How was allowing people to express their creativity somehow as valuable as this?
When I was growing up, the northern part of Ireland was bitterly divided along religious and nationalist lines. A 30 year conflict between predominantly Irish catholics and English protestants separated streets into conflict zones, divided families and caused untold suffering. Over 3,500 people died and 100,000 people were injured during the conflict. An unending circle of destruction prevented economic growth and spawned hatreds that lasted for generations.
But the people of Northern Ireland willed it to end.
Inhabitants of “The North” could see the rest of Europe prospering while fear reigned supreme on the streets of Belfast and other cities. With huge political effort, helped immeasurably by the guiding influence of U.S. President Bill Clinton, people chose to put aside their hatred, to tear down walls rather than build them, to unite rather than divide - to create rather than to destroy.
A once bitterly divided land changed completely. Today, you can drive all of the beautiful coastline of Ireland without stopping. There are no borders, no checkpoints, no interrogations, no visas. Hatred and bigotry can be stopped when the human desire to create a better life is allowed to shine through.
I share the value of helping people to unlock their creativity. That is the Fluid UI mission. We must help people to express themselves and to create new and better futures for each other. We should engage with people from distant places, to understand their cultures and in turn, to create better, more connected lives for all.
Creativity connects people.
No matter where you travel in the world, people’s underlying motivations are the same. People create when they feel they can make a difference and when they are given a chance. When afforded the opportunity to create, they create, and when they are constrained - by violence, by fear, by barriers, by walls, by destruction or by bigotry - they learn to destroy, and pass those values down through the generations.
Creativity, expressed, replaces hate.
We are the lucky ones. As entrepreneurs, as designers or developers, we are already afforded the opportunity to express our creativity and expunge the need for real hate in our lives. By reaching out to those who seek the simplest of opportunities to unlock their own creativity, we can tear down the divisions between us.
Creativity has a value all of its own.