Danger! There’s No Time for Thinking

Monday, November 8, 2010

“We need to reallocate our time”

Prof. María Novo

Thinking is an exclusive and distinctive activity of human beings. To do so unhindered, without restrictions and unconditionally is an expression of our freedom.

And acting upon our thoughts and not in response to the dictates of others is our responsibility. “Free and responsible”: these are the characteristics of educated people, as set forth in the UNESCO constitution.

Education is “sensibly managing one’s own life”, according to Francisco Giner de los Ríos’ superb definition. In consequence, educated people can participate as actors, rather than being mere passive spectators who are fainthearted, obedient, silent and resigned to their fates.

It’s time to think. To attempt to find answers to the essential questions, although it’s not easy because, as José Bergamín wrote, “I flee from myself whenever I meet me”.

And it’s time to observe (that is, to think while looking) what we see.

The news logically always focuses on the unusual, the extraordinary. Although it may be accurate, the news only reflects a small part of what is really happening, of the whole of reality. We have to strain to see those who are “invisible”.

But, in addition, the news is frequently “tinted” with the color of the news source. News that is biased and deceptive.

“Spaniards think that...” I’ve heard this said repeatedly by those who claim to represent “Spaniards”, when in truth they can only speak for a part of Spanish citizens. And the result is merely adding politics to social apathy.

Thus, we must have access to many news sources and time to reflect on the “invisibles” (to be able to achieve the “impossibles”, in the words of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Professor B. Lawn).

It’s time to compare, to appreciate what we have, to realize the “quantity” of welfare we enjoy, and how much welfare others lack.

It’s time to become citizens who participate, and who reject the fact that others must suffer the “collateral effects” of our present system.

We are distracted by Internet, mobile phones, television, Play Stations, and omnipresent sports events. Football at all hours: the Spanish League, the Cup and Super Cup, the Champions League, the European and World Cups …! The entertainment industry has taken on colossal proportions and may be the next “bubble”… It’s almost an addiction. And when is there time for thinking? For imagining? For inventing?

Distracted, we forget what we should remember with each step. We have an obligation to remember; an obligation to be the voice of others.

To reverse the present trends we must begin by changing ourselves and our surroundings.

To mobilize citizens, so that they may cease to be submissive, silent and obedient subjects it is necessary to invent another tomorrow…

Careful! Mental globalization? We must offer alternative formulas and demand democratic government at the local and international levels. We do not want to be led by the world’s 6, 7, 8 or 20 richest countries! We want a strong United Nations –“We the Peoples…” –endowed with the necessary human, technical and financial resources!

We want to be guided by universal ethical principles (social justice, solidarity…) and not by the rules of the marketplace. Citizen Power, Now!

I will end with another saying of María Novo’s: “The big problem is T.D.U. (they’re distracting us)”.

Let’s refuse to be distracted so easily.