This one won’t sound important but it really is, and it’s, “Nothing gets done unless somebody does it.” Basically, that says ultimately, somebody’s got to take responsibility for moving something. It’s amazing how well-meaning organizations and units of organizations will say okay, now we’re working on X and everybody agrees and they put it over there, but nobody is assigned the job of doing it.
War - organized war - is not a human instinct. It is a highly planned and cooperative form of theft. And that form of theft began 10,000 years ago, when the harvesters of wheat accumulated a surplus and the nomads rose out of the desert to rob them of what they themselves could not provide.
I mean…trying to find ways to translate the knowledge, to teach us to ask the right questions…see, we’re on the edge of a revolution in communications technology that’s going to make that more possible than ever before. Or, if that’s not done, to cause an explosion of knowledge that will leave those of us who don’t have access to it as powerless as if we were deaf, dumb and blind. I don’t think most people want that. So what do we do about it? I don’t know. But maybe a good start would be to recognize within yourself the ability to understand anything. Because that ability is there, as long as it’s explained clearly enough. And then go and ask for explanations. And if you’re thinking right now, ‘What do I ask for?’, ask yourself if there’s anything in your life that you want changed.
James Burke, Connections, in 1978, eleven years before Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web.
The concept of portraying evil and then destroying it—I know this is considered mainstream, but I think it is rotten. This idea that whenever something evil happens someone particular can be blamed and punished for it, in life and in politics, is hopeless.
Perfection. That’s what it’s about. It’s those moments. When you can feel the perfection of creation. The beauty of physics, you know, the wonder of mathematics. The elation of action and reaction, and that is the kind of perfection that I want to be connected to.
The complexity of our present trouble suggests as never before that we need to change our present concept of education. Education is not properly an industry, and its proper use is not to serve industries, either by job-training or by industry-subsidized research. It’s proper use is to enable citizens to live lives that are economically, politically, socially, and culturally responsible. This cannot be done by gathering or “accessing” what we now call “information” - which is to say facts without context and therefore without priority. A proper education enables young people to put their lives in order, which means knowing what things are more important than other things; it means putting first things first.
I’ve often thought maybe my life has been a waste, that I might have been a Russian scholar by now at some university. But if I were, I might be thinking my life was a waste because I had never been out into the real world. I suppose I will always be asking myself what I’m going to do when I grow up. But I’m living on my own terms. I like what I do, and I’ve got time to do all these other things that have nothing to do with what I do.