Last Saturday I saw a very interesting presentation at the Griffith Park Observatory Planetarium. The program was based on the origins of our galaxy. Of how life was made possible on our small planet. It discussed different astronomers throughout time and explained how they’d arrived at their theories. The show was progressive over time, showing how once widely held beliefs had given way for modern science.
What struck me the most was that those philosophers and astronomers had been such dynamic thinkers. I know that it couldn’t have been easy to assert their ideas which were so contrary to the popular beliefs at the time. Yet, through their belief in themselves and their ability to hold true to their ideals, they changed the world. Amazing. Truly. Not many people over the course of history were able or willing to stand against the masses to make their original thoughts known. The reasons for this are clear. The inability to conform has never been a treasured character attribute.
Today that hasn’t changed. Today’s schools don’t teach us to be independent thinkers. In fact if anything they teach us not to think independently and certainly we should never question things. In school we are presented the educational rhetoric that is deemed most acceptable by the government and which will most probably lead to improved scores on the almighty beloved standardized tests. Modern education represses the independent thinker by allowing you to succeed only when you follow the rules. Unfortunately, parenting today does next to nothing to correct for this.
As I was leaving the observatory, I passed the astronomers monument on the way to my car. It depicts the six men who were discussed in the film. Seeing their likenesses cast in stone, I couldn’t help but wonder what they would think of the way that things are now. If they were to somehow be transformed from stone into living men, what would they make of the world. Would they revel in the modern day science that is now available to them. Perhaps a few of them would dash inside the observatory to see how astronomy has changed. Maybe they would form a que at the telescope to see all that technology now reveals about the stars, or the heavens as they would have called them.
Then, after they’d had some time to discover all that is right and all that is wrong in today’s world, would that change anything for them. What I mean is, would they be happy that their discoveries had led to all of this. That their ideas were the building blocks of our modern society. That they are still instrumental today in our current understanding of the stars and our physical world. Or, after having taken in every thing around them would they regret that what they’d contributed had brought us all to this point.
I hope not, not on principle anyway. There are many wonderful things in today’s world. We now have the ability to look outside of ourselves and understand our environment in a truly meaningful way. And beyond that we can look to the stars and for the first time see the concepts that those great men once only imagined. However, I have to allow for the fact that it is a very real possibility that they would be less than pleased with the ultimate result of their collective works. Look at Albert Einstein as an example. His brilliant discoveries were ultimately used by the government for a plan of their own design. His research had not been about atomic bombs, but about theoretical physics. His work was tweaked and twisted until it became something that he never intended. If we were to pose the same question to him what do you think he would say. Would he, with the foreknowledge that this theories would one day lead to so many lives lost, still choose to pursue his interests regardless. All indications say no, but we will never know for sure. Just as we won’t know what the six men on the sides of the astronomers monument would decide.
What is my point. It’s simple really. We’re different than all of those men. First off, some of us now are women. Secondly, we have the knowledge that the things we create have the potential to be twisted into something else. Armed with this knowledge, we need to be cautious. Scientists, inventors, philosophers, teachers, leaders, writers, musicians and many more have the ability to touch many lives. Some obviously have a farther reach than others. So, I wonder, knowing this, how could any of us set out to put ugly and negative things into the world. We should instead be responsible and make our mark by introducing something good into the world, or at the very least something harmless. It’s important that we illustrate that we are independent thinkers and continue to expresses our beliefs, but we should do so without magnifying the ugliness that already exists in our world.
Someone gave me an idea about a rather ugly story the other day. I won’t say who and I won’t say what. Why? Because I would never write about things that would cause a negative or fearful response in a person. We live in a world where we face adversity in our daily lives. Reading should be an escape. A place to retreat to when you need a smart beautiful heroine and a sexy loving alpha male. A place where even if your own life has yet to see a happy ending, you can rest assured that somehow the characters on the page before you will find one. Good words, happy words give hope into the world and hope is a very good thing. And we can all use more good things in our lives.