I just read a third installment of the 40th Anniversary edition of Rolling Stone (yes, I’m a subscriber), and read an awesome quote from Al Gore (who I honestly believed in since 1999). In response to the question of how to engineer sweeping social and political and industrial change in a short period of time (i.e. before the ice caps melt):
Einstein once said, “The problems that face us cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness that created them. What we need is a shift in consciousness.”
When asked to clarify, he says:
“Forty-five years ago, Thomas Kuhn wrote a book called The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Twenty years before that, Joseph Schumpeter wrote about the way changes in consciousness take place in business. Both Kuhn and Schumpeter described a process whereby our current way of thinking about the world – who we are, how we live, is challenged by new facts that don’t seem to fit the old explanations. When enough unexplainable new phenomena pile up, there is sometimes a shift in consciousness that moves us quickly and suddenly to recognize a new pattern that quickly and suddenly to recognize a new pattern that explains all of these things that have been mysterious in context of the old way of thinking. That’s what we’re on the cusp of right now.”
So does this mean we’re on the verge of truly profound changes in the way people think? It makes me wonder, since not many people have the insight to actually research their beliefs and simply follow a modality for allegiance. Also, humans like normalcy and following trends, because that’s comfortable. Unless we can break free of those habits, how can we stand to truly buck trends?
For instance, it’s been shown that when the US president tells something to the American people (at least historically) the general public overwhelmingly believes it. In 1964, when the “uneducated” Muhammad Ali protested the Vietnam War, becoming a conscientious objector when drafted, the rest of the country (76% to be exact) still believed we should still deploy more soldiers. No offense to those who have served in Iraq or Vietnam, but America’s going to war for corporate self-interest alone, which is why Bush constantly lowers expectations on television. While the American people’s consciousness is slowly discerning the ramifications of a hastily planned and corrupt war, it’s still not ready to march up to the doorsteps of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, and pull people out.
Yet, this is also a critical time in which that most certainly can happen. More than ever, we have the opportunity to gain more important and relevant information, quicker, with better analysis, and with no regard to partisan politics. We also have quicker methods of contact, organization, and mobilization than ever before because of the new technologies. We have vast opportunities to surpass our predecessors as far as being well-informed citizens and thus can truly prepare ourselves for a true revolution on many levels.
Even as we speak, scientistsphysicists work hard to disprove Einstein’s theory of relativity while simultaneously finding new proofs for what we deem as absolute truths. It’s analogous to what educators experience in their jobs today: we have these new technologies to help our children close the digital divide and have better information to supplement our teaching, yet time and again, the essentials of good teaching have to stay. We still have to write proper lesson plans, have good classroom management, lay a good foundation of subject fundamentals, and have a good sense of self and our environment.
In the same way, our world won’t be able to function if we don’t care more about the environment, teach our children properly about history, show them self-respect and respect for others, inspire them to reach beyond their means, and instill the values of hard work and dedication. Or else, all the new crap we’re developing is truly for naught.