April 8, 2008
A peek behind the curtain:
A guy had been feeling down for so long that he finally decided to seek the aid of a psychiatrist.
He went there, lay on the couch, spilled his guts then waited for the profound wisdom of the psychiatrist to make him feel better.
The psychiatrist asked a few questions, took some notes then sat thinking in silence for a few minutes with a puzzled look on his face.
Suddenly, he looked up with an expression of delight and said, “Um, I think your problem is low self-esteem. It is very common among losers.”
A man who had been in a mental home for some years finally seemed to have improved to the point where it was thought he might be released.
The head of the institution, in a fit of commendable caution, decided, however, to interview him first.
“Tell me,” said he, “if we release you, as we are considering doing, what do you intend to do with your life?’
The inmate said, “It would be wonderful to get back to real life and if I do, I will certainly refrain from making my former mistake. I was a nuclear physicist, you know, and it was the stress of my work in weapons research that helped put me here. If I am released, I shall confine myself to work in pure theory, where I trust the situation will be less difficult and stressful.”
“Marvelous,” said the head of the institution.
“Or else,” ruminated the inmate. “I might teach. There is something to be said for spending one’s life in bringing up a new generation of scientists.”
“Absolutely,” said the head.
“Then again, I might write. There is considerable need for books on science for the general public. Or I might even write a novel based on my experiences in this fine institution.”
“An interesting possibility,” said the head.
“And finally, if none of these things appeals to me, I can always continue being Napoleon’s teakettle.”
A doctor of psychology was doing his normal morning rounds when he entered a patient’s room. He found Patient #1 sitting on the floor, pretending to saw a piece of wood in half.
Patient #2 was hanging from the ceiling, by his feet.
The doctor asked patient number #1 what he was doing. The patient replied, “Can’t you see I’m sawing this piece of wood in half?”
The doctor inquired of Patient #1 what Patient #2 was doing. Patient #1 replied, “Oh. He’s my friend, but he’s a little crazy. He thinks he’s a light bulb.”
The doctor looks up and notices Patient #2′s face is going all red.
The doctor asks Patient #1, “If he’s your friend, you should get him down from there before he hurts himself”
Patient #1 replies, “What? And work in the dark?”
April 8, 2008
April 8, 2008
Why do some cultures and societies progress while others do not? Why does it appear that progress is inevitable in some societies and virtually unlikely in others?
When all is said and done, those are the questions that in fact, define the great divide in our world. There are nations that are as different as night and day that are first world nations and there are nations who share language, similar culture and religion and who live side by, and are vastly different from each other.
It is clear that progress respects culture and religious identity. Progress is not anathema to one society or culture, notwithstanding self serving statements by some to that effect, or the breath of life to another. Instead, progress can be defined as an environment and ideas that stand the test of time. Progress is not unlike art- it is represented by ideas that in the end stand the test of time and can be built upon, opening up new horizons, vistas and perspectives. The fruit of progress benefits and serves societies, cultures and mankind and not just the needs or agendas of particular regimes, leaders, ideologues or individuals. Progress is not language, culture or religion specific. It is important to understand that progress is not chauvinistic, restricted to one culture or society or another.
What is progress? Simply stated, progress is a conscious effort to expand our understanding of ourselves, others and the world we live in.
Progress does not go hand in hand with education. The education process and experience only provide the illusion of progress and study. In reality, education is about learning the repetitive skills we need to survive, earn a living, cope and be a part of the with the world we live in. Learning is the mechanism through which we acquire these skills.
Progress on the other hand, comes about as the result of study- something very different than education. Study is the conscious effort to explore new ideas and to see if and how these new ideas can be integrated into our lives in a positive way. Study is a deliberate examination of the unknown. Most university education is not about study. A good university education might prepare an individual for study but in reality, real study and the quest for new knowledge begins after the university experience.
Real study and the pursuit of knowledge can also be defined by conciously identifying what does not work or contribute to the betterment of all. For example, a cancer researcher who spends decades eliminating factors that contribute to the various causes of cancer is not an unsuccessful researcher- just the opposite in fact. That researcher has positively contributed to the body of knowledge that is cancer research and in fact, is a partner with the scientist who will discover the cause or cure for cancer and will one day stand on the dais of the Nobel Prize Committee.
Over the next few days we will examine progress, education, study and failure in the very real context of the world we live in. We will examine in detail Shrinkwrapped’s excellent series on the Arab Mind, in which he chronicles much of the tragic failures of the Arab world and their institutional and cultural inability to progress. We will also examine some of Dr Sanity’s observations on why some people are afraid to progress and their fear and addiction to failure- and why and how those fears and addictions manifest themselves in our culture and society. We will also look at Mamacita’s experience as an educator and the unique perspective she has as front line observer of change and predictor of what lies ahead.
Taken together, their ideas can provide clarity and great insight into the world we live in.
UPDATE: See Progress And Failure, Part One.