Wednesday, 18 August 2010

day 8: intellect

so the first week of fasting is over, three more weeks to go. i recorded an interview yesterday with the asian radio show, which is broadcast on radio live on friday's at 7.40pm. it was a light interview about ramadan, conducted by the wonderful dr sapna.

today i'd thought i'd consider intellect and creativity. by this i mean the ability to grasp concepts, to solve problems, to come up with ideas and to translate those ideas into something concrete.

i'm thankful that i've been able to use my intellect to get qualifications that have helped me to secure and keep a decent job. i'm able to contribute ideas to the various groups i'm involved with, and to help deal with problems that may arise. the intellect is a human treasure, with such limitless possibilities and i'm sure most of us don't even come close to our potential. but even so, i'm thankful there are people in the world who innovate, come up with new concepts that develop into products which make our lives easier in so many ways. this may be improvements to health, labour-saving devices, processes that are environmentally friendly or any number of other things.

one thing that bothers me is the commercial model that most of our innovation now comes out of . the problem is that under this model, unless an idea is likely to make money and unless it can be patented, it isn't likely to see light of day. my fear is that we lose out on many simple and easy solutions to various problems, because if we could solve the problem at low cost with a widely available substance, there would be no incentive for corporations to invest in the research and development required.

the only way around this is to have publicly funded research, but particularly in this country, investment in publicly funded research has been steadily decreasing, and even the funding that is still available often has a "commercial viability" component.

as to creativity, i'm not sure that i'm very good at it. i've never been interested in arts, drama, music, or craftwork. i don't like cooking, and am not really interested in science or research. the only really creative thing i do is write, which i enjoy as it gives me the ability to disseminate my thoughts to the world.

which is not to say that i can't appreciate the creativity of others and the beauty it brings to the world. i'm thankful for all the painters, the novelists, the architects who design beautiful structures, the film makers, and anyone who enriches the world with their creativity. creativity is often dependent on affluence though, as i find that the most beautiful poetry, music, architecture and the like comes from societies that are doing well. after all, many of our creative endeavours depend on patronage and the investment of time and money. unless there are finances up front to invest, the creative endeavour will not even begin.

there was an interesting discussion on radio nz yesterday (afternoons, 3.10pm) about a creativity crisis that is apparently hitting america. while intelligence levels are increasing, creativity levels are decreasing, though there is nothing conclusive which might tell us why. some theories were discussed, such as too much tv watching, schools teaching to standards rather than being able to develop creativity.

so, yes, i'm thankful today for the gifts of intellect and creativity, whether i benefit from them directly and indirectly. i wish i was able to contribute more than i do in this area. action points for today's topic: schedule some time in the near future to create something, anything. small or big, in whatever field of endeavour you feel comfortable with, and with whatever you can afford. it could be a poem, a cake, or a photograph. and when you're done, be proud of it, even if it doesn't turn out how you wanted. also, try to take some time to appreciate the creativity of others, whether it's via the internet or actually going on an outing to see something interesting or beautiful. possible to causes to support are alzheimers nz and the mental health foundation.

today i think about those who are not unable to use their intellect, perhaps because of a degenerative disease or for some other reason. my thoughts and prayers are with them.

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