Tuesday, 22 April 2014

There are only two questions really worth asking ...

... But the point, what I've got it down to, is there are only two questions really worth asking. "Why are we here?" and "What should we do about it while we are? And to help you, I've got two things to leave you with, from two great philosophers, perhaps two of the greatest philosopher thinkers of the 20th century, one a mathematician and an engineer, and the other a poet.

The first is Ludwig Wittgenstein who said, "I don't know why we are here. But I'm pretty sure it's not in order to enjoy ourselves." (Laughter) 

And secondly and lastly, W.H. Auden, one of my favorite poets, who said, "We are here on earth to help others. What the others are here for, I've no idea." (Laughter) (Applause)

An excerpt from TED Talk by John Lloyd - An inventory of the invisible. Filmed at TEDGlobal in July 2009.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Clash versus fusion and synthesis

     "Every age, every culture, every custom and tradition has its own character, its own weakness and its own strength, its beauties and ugliness; accepts certain sufferings as matters of course, puts up patiently with certain evils. Human life is reduced to real suffering, to hell, only when two ages, two cultures and religions overlap."

These lines by the novelist Hermann Hesse were written in his book Steppenwolf nearly a century ago. The idea of clash of civilizations has also remained prevalent in recent years. It was popularized by Samuel P. Huntington in late 1990s. Many people still believe that their culture, religion or way of life is under threat by the opposing forces. Fears of modernization and new technologies are likewise common. 

Although there is no doubt that every civilization and time period has its unique characteristics. However, the notion that conflict or overlapping between cultures, creeds or distinct eras would result in human sufferings can’t be true in broader sense. In my view, these are the intersections where ideals, thoughts, morals, beliefs and norms get challenged. Without these collisions, growth in human thought will be hampered and stagnation would ensue. At these boundaries, new ideas take root, synthesis is achieved and flowers grow.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Rainbows are not limited to the skies

Double rainbow with reflection in water, Lappland Sweden by Jerry Magnum Porsbjer
     Charlie Chaplin once famously said “You’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down”. It is supposed to be a motivational quote, but then a friend of mine quipped that one can also find rainbow reflection in water while looking down. That was certainly a clever observation and a kind of improvement to the original quote. In fact, a full rainbow circle can only be viewed from a plane or some other aerial vehicle while looking down towards the earth. Rainbows can also be seen in prism light, mist of waterfalls and spray of fountains. Even iridescent surface of a transient soap bubble exhibit something similar.

Mist rainbow at Takakkaw Falls, Canada by Michael Rogers
Rainbow as seen from the Helicopter by Brocken Inaglory
     Rainbows represent hope. It is a promise that gloomy clouds are receding. Hope gives us the courage to face grim odds and like rainbows, one can find it in unexpected situations.
So I would like to offer a corollary to Charlie’s quote.

Rainbows are not limited to the skies. You can find these at many different places. Just keep looking and never give up.

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons