Just Sayin'

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


... I'VE JUST FOUND 10,000 WAYS THAT WON'T WORK." A particularly endearing Thomas Edison Quote.

There's absolutely no use to tell anyone who this dude is. If you don't know Thomas Alva Edison, you must be losing a little spark somewhere. He had very little formal education but he had a persistent curious nature that had led him to discover and invent breakthroughs in science that greatly influences human lives to date. His verbal skills were quite slow as he started talking only until he was almost 4 years of age, but he had an insatiable desire to search for the answers to his highly fertile mind.  We would probably categorize him these days as borderline autistic and/or even ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and prescribe some Ritalin. Enable or disable him with drugs until he becomes completely useless and cast him off in society as a total "weirdo". He would live a solitary life, lose all of his friends, his chances for a decent  career. Meanwhile, the rest of the world would probably still be living in the dark ages.

Except, back then, his one and true faithful supporter was his mother who believed that somewhere in that rather odd and unusual demeanour lies a brilliant mind.

Now, just because "Inventors" were typical of the 19th century, what has made humanity so cynical and jaded in the 21st century to throw a judging and suspicious eye on anyone who tries to run against the mainstream and not flow with the norms? What has made society these days isolate the "geniuses" into a sweeping category like "nerds" and "geeks" or even in worst case scenarios, "unfit and unwanted" based on prevailing societal standards? What the hell happened?

I am not saying that back in those days there weren't any segregation or discrimination, there were probably worst conditions more than I would know. However, the likes of Edison and other influential people of the early centuries that have become world famous for defying the norms, characteristically withstood the mundane pressure and persevered their causes. The persistence and tenaciousness of Edison in the face of failures and unimaginable heckling has made his name synonymous to the world's best self-taught inventor.

Meanwhile, the rest of us humans of the 21st century, gloat and bask in our ascribed limitless knowledge of the universe; whine at the slightest discomfort and inconvenience; mock anyone who stands out against the norm; label people into classes such as failures, idiots, losers, morons or all of the above; completely lose our sense of dignity by believing we are superior above all the garbage we have idolized and icon-ized. 

We just lost it.

Our sense of curiosity; exploration; trying and failing; defying common rules that are generally wrong; standing up for our uniqueness and truly respecting diversity. Believing in something, or someone, or a cause that is far greater than the universe itself. We have succumbed to self-love and a generation that believes that the best world view is from our own individual perspective. 

Admit it. we did. Yes we have become more tolerant of gender preferences, religious and even political views; but have we embraced terms that we did not create? 
Have we stood defiant and persisted on an idea in spite of possible ridicule and standing out from the crowd? 
Do we respect "brilliance" that is not ours or from our kind? 
If it is not in Wikipedia, do we know where to search for answers? 
Have we accepted that failure is a necessary evil to further stretch ourselves or do we even know what is to "stretch" when everything else we need can be accessed by our fingertips?
Have we found 10,000 ways that won't work, or did we even try?


  1. Interesting point!

    I would argue that creativity and innovation isn't being stifled, it just isn't as well reported on as it could/should be.

    Throughout history, it would seem that the celebrities of the time were the innovators, artists and abstract thinkers. Basically, the people who created things. Nowadays, celebrities tend to be people who appeared on a reality show, while the real creatives work behind the scenes making 3D TVs and cramming more and more goodies into our mobile phones.

    Then again, perhaps the likes of Edison, Newton and Da Vinci were not even popular or celebrities at the time, and it's just that history remembers them for their achievements. In 100 years time, we could be calling a scientist a pioneer who remains unknown at this point in time. Anyway, I'm starting to ramble so I'll just say, great post. Got me thinking anyway.

  2. We may be more "inclusive", but we are more apt to label. The more things change the more they stay the same.

  3. Welcome back! I really missed reading your blog! Great post. My son is in the spectrum and his mind and the way he looks at life is amazing! Over the years I've been advised to medicate him (Ritalin and the like) by a couple of his teachers (of course I refused) - apparently the public school system only wants to churn out like-minded "round pegs" and unfortunately (for them), Connor is a square peg that doesn't fit in the round hole of public education.
    I told him once that maybe he's the next Edison or Einstein and he said, "No. I'm the next me." :)

  4. Yay, for people who are different. Thanks for a great post. This is good for advocates of the differently abled instead of saying disabled.

  5. One of the most innovative minds that I have come to know came in a 'nerdy' package, and excelled initially at looking down on the arts as bull#%*^. That was until I convinced him that he could get a lot more out of life, if he just gave in, and started slinging the bull with the rest of us. This was an eye-opening experience for him, and he subsequently went on to develop AM stereo radio, and a number of other fabulous inventions in Silicon Valley. I don't think he quite forgave me, for he really wanted the world to be the way he originally envisioned it.

    This is all to say that sometimes even those nuts who invent things need a nudge in the 'right' direction.

  6. As always PB, a wonderful post.

    The Lil man was actually in therapy from the age of 18 months.
    He was diagnosed as being highly intelligent and at the age of three, they worked hard to make him more 'childlike' as opposed to the 'old man' he appeared to be.

    At school his vast knowledge saw him labelled as a freak by his peers and one therapist even suggested that he cut his long hair in order to look 'normal' and fit in.

    He is and will always be an eccentric child, from his musical tastes to the clothes he wears. But his confidence ensures that what makes him different, is something to celebrate, rather than cause him anxiety.

  7. This provoked quite a bit of thought PBB, thanks!

    How quick we have become to judge and assign meaning to things beyond our scope of life experience. As if we all deserve an opinion or chance to exalt ourselves. Meanwhile, the true genius minds rarely ever seek the fame THEY deserve!

  8. I have an odd belief there is a genius in all of us.
    But we have all been guilty at one point or another, of judging anybody who may stray a bit from the usual or rather different from ourselves.
    It is lovely to hear your thoughts and that somehow some of you may have experienced being discriminated at yourself or a loved one only because people have become so boxed into stereotypes that whatever you find rather discomforting or different is wrong. Often we think too much of ourselves we have forgotten how it really is to be living out of the box. It's really worth a shot! Thanks.