Thursday, 17 September 2009

Thinking out loud and some words from Einstein.

I stayed up late last night, well past my bedtime. Ideas I've toyed with in my mind for a long time were at the forefront of my concentration and I finally felt I could maybe piece together a coherent post about it. Slightly encouraged by the quite creative movie that we saw on Monday; District 9, I got to work. My thoughts and opinions flowing onto the screen in my own very convoluted manner. I soon hit 2566 words. That’s where I ended. My eyes were struggling to keep open. The morning was almost upon me so I had to place my thoughts and opinions on hold and head to bed.

All the spare minutes at work today I spent thinking about it. Passing thoughts around in my mind - scenarios regarding how society, the structures and groups of people in the world and their ideas interact. The drives of humanity, psychological and physical needs, necessity, emotion, but also the darker drives of the society we live in, greed and exploitation. I pondered how ideas could make or break humanity... after love and happiness, is there something in life that is worth focusing on more than anything else? If making more money really is worth the dedication required, or if there is something much more meaningful, something helpful to humanity we could aim to do with life. How it might be possible to limit the detrimental ability of those with entrepreneurial, political or ideological ruthlessness and greed in obtaining and retaining wealth and power that brings about scenarios that are not pareto efficient, and further to that how to ensure that those who need it most are helped before those who have more than they need.

My thoughts were also geared towards how the influence of organised religion on the world can be reduced to find a situation where personal belief does not impact on other people or society in a way that indoctrinates, causes discrimination and division. Thinking about if it would be possible for human society to find a constructive bond that could unite people and set us on our way. Somwhere on track to find leaders of the future capable of Star Trek like ideals, where monetary competition might no longer be needed, where competition is about the will to further and better ourselves and explore. And where we might be able to dedicate more than we can now to help each other and to try to answer questions of our existence. Not forgetting having a few laughs and a bit of fun along the way.

Although I spent a fair bit of time typing it, I’m glad I held off posting it now. Mainly because I know I still have a lot more to learn, an education that might take a life time to refine my thoughts... and even then I still might not have an answer to the questions I was even asking myself let alone the arguments others would pick in my arguments. Thankfully I have found someone who held a similar world view to that of my own. Someone who wrote something that I’d like to share because there are unlikely to be many wiser words written and like all of his work, whether you agree with him or not, its great food for thought ...

Here is an excerpt from “Out Of My Later Years” by Albert Einstein, 1950:
(and here is a longer extract that I have found on the web which includes the lead up to this part... best though would be to lay hands on a copy of the book :) )

“Every individual should have the opportunity to develop the gifts which may be latent in him. Alone in that way can the individual obtain the satisfaction to which he is justly entitled; and alone in that way can the community achieve its richest flowering. For everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labour in freedom. Restriction is justified only in so far as it may be needed for the security of existence.

There is one other thing which follows from that conception-that we must not only tolerate differences between individuals and between groups, but we should indeed welcome them and look upon them as an enriching of our existence. That is the essence of all true tolerance; without .tolerance in this widest sense there can be no question of true morality.

Morality in the sense here briefly indicated is not a fixed and stark system. It is rather a standpoint from which all questions which arise in life could and should be judged. It is a task never finished, something always present to guide our judgment and to inspire our conduct. Can you imagine that any man truly filled with this ideal could be content:-

Were he to receive from his fellow men a much greater return in goods and services than most other men ever receive?
Were his country, because it feels itself for the time being militarily secure, to stand aloof from the aspiration to create a supra-national system of security and justice?
Could he look on passively, or perhaps even with indifference, when elsewhere in the world innocent people are being brutally persecuted, deprived of their rights or even massacred?

To ask these questions is to answer them.”

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