I was watching a TED talk (one of my favorite websites BTW, check it out ted.com,) and their slogan is “Ideas worth spreading.” Which is an excellent slogan, but it got me thinking. What is an idea? Where do ideas come from? What defines a good idea, or bad idea?
An idea is defined as “A concept or mental impression.” There are a lot of things that fall into that bubble. Ideas are what shapes our reality, our society, our policies and political structure, our relationships with each other, our religions our live.
Where do all of these ideas come from? The whole purpose of my writing here is to have a collection of my ideas and share them with the world. Sometimes (with posts like this one) i don’t even have a body or a thesis when I start typing, I just have the idea “I’d like to write about this,” and I let the words come and see what shows up as I break it down in my head. Maybe unorganized, but feels genuine and natural to me. I find a similar pattern at work. I work at the Vancouver Aquarium, and one of the things I do, involves Interpretive Delivery. I find that when I am on microphone, delivering a program, i ride a wave of thought. Sometimes the program I do will involve 2 of us on microphone, and in the planning stages before the program, I have to often warn my partner “We can plan this thoroughly, but I have to warn you that what we plan in advance, and what comes out of my mouth can be two very different things.” My creative process is almost instantaneous, which is wonderful when I’m connected and in the moment, but as soon as something happens to knock me off that wavelength, i find myself treading water a little bit before being able to hop back on the surfboard.
I find ideas “drop” into my head, when I’m on a wave of understanding. Almost like that idea was sitting there waiting for me to grab it, which is how many people define Creativity. Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) shares a very beautiful description of the creative process here. If this is true, than Scientists, Artists, Teachers, Construction workers and Politicians go through a similar process. An idea comes through each one of them and is expressed in an end result. The products of these ideas are sometimes adored by many and other times go unnoticed. I believe Van Gogh’s works took almost a century to become widely accepted as some of the “best.” But was makes an idea the “best” one?
The best idea is generally the one that is accepted by and serves the largest amount of people. Einstein and Hitler were notable figures in the 20th Century because of their ideas. Einstein’s are mostly remembered as “good” ones, and Hitler’s are mostly remembered as “bad,” due to the effects of what those ideas gave birth to. Obama is another notable figure who is filled with inspiring ideas of how to shape America. Unfortunately for Obama, and sometimes the case for other “idea makers,” he was an unsuccessful implementer of those ideas. Ron Paul, another presidential candidate, is someone else full of provocative and revolutionary ideas, but will he turn out to be an implementer of those ideas or, like Obama, another figurehead “scorned” on how he can’t deliver. But, does that make Obama’s ideas “bad?” Hardly. Perhaps his ideas just may not fit into the political system that the United States currently uses. I digress, as this isn’t a political discussion.
A “good” idea is one that serves the largest number of people, so how does one obtain a good idea? The best answer may be “Through the break down of old ideas into the reformation of new ones.” This is often described in art/music/literature as “influences.” It’s described in Science and Law as “reference.” So often I hear people describe themselves as “critical thinkers.” I believe that a thinker that takes ideas,and breaks them down is so important to the forward momentum of our existence here. But that critical thinking serves no one if all that has happened is the “breaking down” of an idea without the reformation of a new one. It’s easy to assess what’s wrong with a situation, but you must also notice what’s right about a situation, and then what can be improved on in a situation. In other words…..It’s hard to understand the text in a book, if you’re too busy proofreading it.
Religion is something that falls victim to this quite frequently. Religion is a modality, or mode (which means “a way of doing something,”) which can also be defined as a “practice”. So religion is just a collection of practices of spirituality…..unfortunately the “Practice” has become the most important part of the religion, rather than the “Spirituality.” It’s a disconnect, which automatically leads to umbrella judgements, leaving all the reason and understanding in the dust….at least that’s my idea of it.
In fact, every altercation on this planet is a result of separate ideas, and the inability to make them fit. Both ideas could have positive implications, or negative implications or both, but if no one can see how the two could work together in a way that benefits both, then the mix will always be unstable.
Speaking of religion and altercations, the concept of evolution is a fascinating one, rooted in ideas. Stay with me on this, in order for something to “evolve” there would have to be an idea or desire as a target to evolve towards. In order for a giraffe to survive in it’s surroundings it reaches food that is out of reach of other animals. Somewhere in time, a creature had to desire the food that would have the least amount of competition. Is this any less an idea? It’s a “concept” that evolved into a reality.
Perhaps I’m grasping at straws now, but the point of this entry is, ideas shape our reality, remember to use them wisely. Just like the human race, every idea is unique and interconnected and if we can step back and see how they all fit, not only will we better understand our pieces, but we will better appreciate the pieces that everyone else has to contribute as well.