There is a quote by George Bernard Shaw that should be everyone’s rallying cry. The quote is in three parts. It says:
A reasonable man adapts to himself to the world,
The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to him
Therefore ALL progress depends upon the unreasonable man.
I urge you to read the quote once more, and revel in its brilliance.
Here’s an example: for thousands of years humans could only hear each other if they were in the same space, allowing sound waves to move from mouth to ear. This was the REALITY of voice communication. In order to speak and be heard by anyone both the speaker and the listener NEEDED to be in the same space.
Reasonable men accepted this state of affairs for millennia. They understood that sound waves could travel limited distances. It took someone unreasonable to want to change what seemed like a law of nature. Alexander Graham Bell dared to dream of creating a contraption that could transport the human voice across great distances, not only across towns but cities, countries.
He must have sounded insane telling of his vision to friends. It would have sounded unlikely, crazy even. To say to people that he wants to create a device that can teleport the human voice across great distances. Nothing like that had existed before. People could not fathom a device that would transport the human voice to Africa, for instance, while the human remained in Europe. Perhaps it sounded more like witchcraft!
It was unreasonable for Alexander Graham Bell to have such a lofty dream. Logic at the time said it could not be done. But for humanity to progress we have to ignore reality in preference of our beautiful dreams. Graham Bell invented the telephone. The human voice for the first time travelled using telephone wires.
Just over a hundred and fifty years after the telephone was invented someone more unreasonable wanted the ease of communication we get from telephones, minus the cumbersome telephone lines. This was another unreasonable dream. Its fulfilment led to the invention of our mobile phones.
It has taken unreasonable people to push humanity forward. We all need to reject a present we did not design. We need to caution children against the acceptance of a reality they have found in the world. We need to teach children to be unreasonable whenever reason stands in the way of dreams.
Much of the progress we have seen in human history has been brought about by people who were not realistic, people who saw beauty in their dreams. People who persisted tirelessly to create a world that first existed in their imagination.
Dreaming can be intimidating because it requires the dreamer to reject societal convention; it requires the dreamer to have faith and then to work to manifest the dream into reality. It is not easy. Following a dream requires knowledge, skill, patience, research and perseverance. With those things, much can be achieved.
The human brain is limitless in its imagination. We as humans belong to a species that has conquered air and seas. We looked at birds and created airplanes. We looked at fish and created submarines. We can all envision a world that is not real.
Humanity will explore time and space and matter in ways that our ancestors never even dreamed of. I grew up watching Star Track and being amazed by the imagined technologies like video calling. This was not a reality. Today one does not need to be inside the Starship Enterprise in order to video call and then see a friend in real time, no matter where in the world the friend is. Nearly everybody uses this technology as if it is a birthright. But the truth is that as recently as thirty years ago such a technology was considered science fiction.
George Bernard Shaw’s words inspire us to dream dreams so big they scare us. One quality all of us need to have is the fearlessness to dream, to have courage enough to reject reality.
There was an Apple advert that encompasses George Bernad Shaw’s quote. It reads: “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in square holes…the ones who see things differently- They are not fond of rules…you can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things…they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Here’s to the dreamers.
Tell us: how can we encourage children to become creative ‘dreamers’?