“It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards.”
Søren Kierkegaard’s quote “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards,” reminds me of the intricacies of navigating a timeline that pushes us in only one direction – forward. It is impossible to even go back a few seconds, much less a decade or a lifetime. Instead, we have been given the gift of memory that allows us to reflect upon events, circumstances and decisions that have nuanced our journey.
Over the past weeks, looking backwards has given me a glimpse into an ancient world which is often celebrated within the framework of legend that borders on mythology. Yet, these men and women were made of flesh and blood. They lived extraordinary lives and left a legacy for those that came after. As I read their narratives, I wondered why they chose to think differently, to ignore the demands of accepted cultural norms. They embraced a more arduous route, seeking fulfillment that transcended trivial rewards offered by a status quo existence.
This week, I want to look backwards, to pause and reflect on the lives of the ancients, from Euclid to Aspasia, Thales to Zeno, Hipparchia to Ptolemy. I confess that I have not mapped out an outline for the next few posts, merely an idea that I want to follow as I consider my place in a world that is moving ever forward.
“Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”
“We have sold ourselves into a fast food model of education, and it’s impoverishing our spirit and our energies as much as fast food is depleting our physical bodies.”
Sir Ken Robinson
The age old debate of whether education and learning are the same is gaining momentum. Never before has education been so valuable and yet, whether learning has occurred is now being questioned. We have the technology that allows us to communicate and transfer knowledge across the globe in a matter of seconds; the possibilities for advancement are virtually limitless. Yet, in our dangerously divided world, this potential can only be realized when our learning institutions raise the hopes and spirits of humanity. Only then can we, as a global community, learn to seek peaceful solutions, embrace diversity and experience a renaissance.
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.”
Remembrance Day services honour the fallen. It is a memorial, a time of giving thanks and a way of showing respect for the members of our armed forces who have died in the line of duty. But there are many others who have given their legs, arms, eyes, and hearing. Others suffer post traumatic stress disorder and face an uncertain integration into mainstream society. Friends and families share their distress as the valiantly support these brave men and women through the rehabilitation process.
Every Remembrance Day, I pledge to honour our armed forces by seeking peaceful solutions in my interactions, supporting just causes, upholding noble efforts and celebrating community. We can all make a difference.
“Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.”
“The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one.”
“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”
Secretly, we would all like to think that we have a smidgeon of genius. It doesn’t have to be much, just enough to know that we have some claim on intelligence. After all, we’ve been taught from early childhood that achieving high marks is a noble pursuit. And the competition and the stakes continue to escalate as we mature into adulthood. This week will be dedicated to the search for genius. Perhaps, we can leave the competitive ring and focus on the quest of knowledge.
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”
Munich – Albert Einstein’s hometown.