Written by Jenna Bauer
Published: February 2, 2014 at 5:32 PM [UTC]
Although many decades have passed since the words were written, somehow it feels as though Einstein wrote them yesterday. His insight is consistent, pure and profound in the simplest manner, as if he is writing chapters for the book of life. In Einstein's eyes, we were each born with a purpose: to contribute in some way to the betterment of society. Think of the warm, illuminated house you are in at this moment, of the computer you sit at, the internet you survey. None of these things sprung into existence of their own accord. Many others before you devoted their lives to make it so that you today have the ability to acquire those things. Now, as Einstein suggests, it is our duty to contribute to humanity in a similar fashion, giving back in gratitude for what we may easily take for granted.
Did our ancestors toil and trial relentlessly just so we could watch YouTube and heat frozen food in minutes? I am inclined to say, no. Those scientists and artists who contributed to humanity throughout time have un mistakenly shaped the world we know in every way. Now the alarm sounds for us. Will we preserve the past with care and nourish the great ideas of our time, or will we relax in our easy chair and cease to care for the preservation of our intriguing species? What can we offer in thanks for what we have been given?
I admit, it did not take much pondering before I realized my role as a musician in this world is significant. As a proponent of an artistically challenging instrument, my lifes work strives to keep culture alive. In Einstein’s own words, “It is just as important to keep culture alive as to solve specific problems.” The violin itself is a relic of the Enlightenment, a proud era in our history when scientific and artistic endeavors were heaving with productive, creative genius, much of which we now look upon with awe. If we were to allow Symphonies to fade from public attention it would be no less destructive than disregarding Newton’s law of universal gravitation. Great music enlivens our entire brain and reveals to us the genuine splendor of cooperation.
When the Voyager Golden Record was launched, works by Beethoven, Mozart and Stravinsky were among the few on the track. Their stardom will quite literally reach the stars. It is their music which we deem worthy enough to share with the other intelligent beings in the universe.
Alas, a world dank with war, competitive hatred and lack of empathy can not be tolerated if true greatness is to be achieved by mankind. Cooperation, understanding and camaraderie should be at the forefront of our goals if we wish to survive among our sentient neighbors in the abyss of space.
While there is a place for those considerations, I can no longer bear to have forced on me by the world around me the idea that these are the only reasons to do things, or even the most important reasons to do things.
I want to once more do things because they are right, because they matter in and of themselves, even if that comes at a cost that is impractical in a strictly physical or material way.
To my mind comes the old story of the man who sold everything he had so he could buy a single, amazingly beautiful pearl, not so he could sell it and make even more money, but simply because it was so beautiful. While the person who first told that story had a specific pearl in mind, the idea that a thing can be inherently valuable and therefore worthwhile, and things should be done, first and foremost, because they matter, and secondarily, if at all, because they offer some profit or advantage is, I think, the only approach to things that really motivates me.
Long story short, thank you for this post. It got me thinking, and now I realize why I’ve felt so down recently, and now I have an idea what to do about it.
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