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Where have the real people of influence gone?

00 Humain_Techno
Illustrations: University of Missouri

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift
and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
We have created a society that honors
the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
--Albert Einstein

Have we reached the level of lacking inspiration? For how long haven’t we had a model or a person who could inspire us? I am not speaking of political personalities or financial experts or business strategists. It is simply about a person who will inspire the actual and the future generations about the true meaning of people’s wellbeing, of their future in a better world than the one we are living in today.

Today’s world seems to have delegated to technologies and to “fast food” clichés the care to show us that living well, is traced according to well-crafted standards, such standards we hardly remember where they come from. We are in a “Beware if you dare break out of the ranks!” collective culture. Here is our problem, we relegate what is essential and endorse the superfluous.

Who can pretend not living without debts; house, car, vacation, furniture, clothes, and even more. Mortgage can now be transferred to your legacy, and banks approach even seniors to incite them to apply for loans!

You may say this is the reality of things, there is so little that can be done. Who of us is not forced to do overtime or take a second job to meet both ends: expenses and bills seem to rule our existence? The normality of such living is inevitably at the expense of personal and family time? You would say that is the way a consumer society lives by. Do we really feel that blindfolded to adhere to all what is decided for us in advance?

While writing this paper, I wished to query some data from the most popular sites, in order to find information on our latest contemporary:

  • Thinkers of our modern history: In the 70’s there were the “New Philosophers”. Since none to be noted (At least according to the sources I found), it seems that since that time we are drowned under technology after technology that have taken the control over our voice!
  • Modern times educators got their moments of fame until the 80’s early 90’s, since that time pedagogy and technologies got into a relationship where sadly the first is declining in favour of the second. Just reading a paper describing the values of using tablet to educate” young learners sounds so dehumanizing. Tablets do not educate, teachers do!
  • The 20th century Humanists, two are still alive, the trend seems to have slowed down by the end of the 80’s.

The same situation applies for sociologists, strategists, visionary people, urban planners, innovative engineers, architects and education specialists. I stopped my search, the results were too identical to the previous ones.

Oddly this situation corresponds to the emergence of experts. These experts who took over the humanized thinking, offering one of the wackiest dogmatism ever imagined. Experts who serve us their own vision, filling our minds with theories seldom verified or proven.

Our modern history knows a few things experts predicted when then all went wrong!

The slowdown in our thinking coincides surprisingly, during the last quarter of the past century, with the popularization and ease of accessibility to the new technologies and the emergence of the web in our work and private life environments. These changes have not stopped chipping away the « space » we live in.

Gradually we are deprived from a certain privacy, messages and slogans incite us to “shop in the comfort of our home”, we are sent on a daily basis our virtual newspaper with selected articles, and people receive regular emails reading: “These are the items we (carefully) selected for you”. These systems anticipate what is good for us, I would like to think: am I not the best person to know what is good for me, right?

Not sure if you noticed, when you do some online shopping and then go to your favourite social media network, some familiar commercials do really “follow” you; if some find it “wow or awesome” I do not! I guess the more people feel tracked the more they think it is a way to have “better service”. There will be people saying I tend to exaggerate, that we still have the freedom of choosing! I could agree with you, but honestly speaking I have a problem to see how the news networks filter the information we need to know, and how ignorant we are kept from what is going on planet Earth about poverty, hunger, wars, and more issues humans no matter where they are need to care about! The price of such lack of substance is too much too high.

Most recently we are served with the latest creation, let’s call it the cherry on the sundae: Big Data. Ah! Big Data, if any expert could truly explain in human vocabulary how BD will improve peace, better education, less poverty and happier people, then I pledge to become the most dedicated advocate of BD!

Speaking of education the situation is even more disappointing. Looks like the great specialists in pedagogy of education give more credit to new technologies than their own knowledge. Reading their publications, I see how they talk about tablets, smart phone, and technologies before sharing their wealth of knowledge. Such knowledge they spent years of their lives to collect, to experiment and even to teach in well-known universities. They tend today to promote a piece of technology and then find to it the pedagogical value: the form before the content!

Personally I am not against any technology, I have been a real traveller of the first Internet generation still remembering the horrifying sounds the modems of that time used to inform us we had a connection… My office resides in a tablet I carry and connect from almost everywhere in the world, I use all the available tools that I need from editing, to cloud, connections and to multimedia and graphic arts. It remains though a technology that I shut down when I need to sit with friends and enjoy family moments!

Don’t we value our education, our students and the people who will become the 2035 adults worth our human wealth and richness, those priceless gifts we carry within our collective thinking?

Albert Einstein’s quote describes so well the sentiment prevailing (at least for me) in our century: We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift!

Today’s humanity absolutely needs to call for candidates to the job of True people of influence. Our wellbeing depends on real leaders who will ensure the return of the gift and contribute for a better world to give to the people in 20 years from now!

Michel – February 27, 2015

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