An email I received the other day had a jarring effect on my mind. Why was this I wondered?
There was something in the tone, something in the whole feel of the thing that was not quite right. The content itself was not the issue, rather, it reminded me of a whole culture of thinking I had largely avoided for the last 2 or 3 years. And that is the culture of the “educated” rational mind.
The email had highlighted a number of “problems” or potential “problems” with an opportunity I had been enquiring about. Nothing wrong with that you might innocently think. And yet within the innocent reasonableness of this email, lay bare the insidiously destructive nature of the “educated” rational mind.
Was the person who wrote it to blame for this? Far from it, theirs is the all too common approach of educated and intelligent people, whose mantra could well be “I Solve Problems – Therefore I AM”.
We can observe this phenomena more broadly in everyday Western societies: The endless economic, cultural, societal, scientific, medical, environmental (I could go on) list of problems which rather than being “solved” just seem to multiply year on year. E.g The lists of laws get longer every year, the lists of medical diagnosis mutliply, we move from one economic crisis to another etc.
And yet the “elite”, the people at the top of the responsible organisations and involved in these activities, are prize problem solvers. They are usually the ones who have gone through more of education’s hoops than anyone else. They have proven time and time again their prowess as great memorisers and problem solvers.
These “educated, intelligent elite” are a proud product of an “educational” system which trains and rewards people for identifying and solving problems. The by-product of which is an uncanny ability to find more and more problems, and hence they spawn and un-ending cycle of problem creation.
Is there a class of people who do not suffer from this problem solving mind-set? Well yes, several, those fortunate enough to get out of “education” before its too late and, artisans and artists.
Artists and artisans look for opportunites, a chance to create something, something new maybe or maybe something better than before. Not necessarily to only solve a problem, but simply for the fun of it, just because they can. Focusing on problem solving has an inherent backward looking quality about it, creation, in its purest forms, builds on the past whilst leaping into a new future.
So, what to do with this emailer? A problem or an opportunity to be creative?
© David R. Durham
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