The individual

Two interesting facts define this unfolding 21st century, and both work in our favour as a budding nation. First, this is the age of knowledge, right at our fingertips. Second, the world is a global village, small, reachable and intertwined as never before in history.

These two create a world where the individual stands as a powerful potential.

Google charts the knowledge age with its goal to harness all the world’s information, making the vast knowledge vat free and easy to anyone anywhere anytime.

The global village, wrapped in satellites and microchips and electronic connectivity, offers a democratic playing field to the global population, even to a senior citizen in Pomeroon or Mabaruma.

In these early days of this Age of Knowledge, we see information availability becoming the foundation of the new world.

The information infrastructure that wraps the globe into one small world sees multimedia communication and social sharing becoming the biggest part of our lives.

Music, movies and easily accessible electronic books (with a strong audio element to them) now spread a global culture that is fast becoming homogenous, especially with English now the common global language for business, governance and international relations.

This scenario has opened up some astonishing opportunities for the ordinary person.

On Google Books, for example, and on countless other web domains, tens of thousands of free books, and most of the classics, are available for easy download and reading.

Any one of us could get acquainted with the works of Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Walcott, Naipaul and so on, in an instant. Although this new world has so far failed to generate serious global interest in literature and knowledge, the foundation is laid. And now, for the first time in the history of mankind, the individual person could embark on a journey of self-empowerment, of personal transformation, of developing his or her intelligence and wisdom.

The father figure of the technology age, the American thinker, Vannevar Bush, wrote a paper in 1945 that most folks credit for the invention of the personal computer, the mouse and the keyboard. In that paper, Bush prophesied that a personal computer would “augment human intelligence”.

It’s a bit early in the era of knowledge, but so far, that augmentation of intelligence among the world population seems to be elusive.

Yet, it is possible.

Any person, anywhere, in the backlands of Berbice, the farmlands and waterways of Essequibo, the savannahs of the Rupununi, the river communities of the Pomeroon, could today, now, personally “augment their intelligence”, and thus transform his or her personal life.

The new world moves, albeit very slow, to embrace books. Those tens of thousands of books available at Google Books, wait for individuals who would eagerly love them, embrace them, soak up their content.

What greater joy could there be than to relax under a coconut tree in a patch of vegetable garden in Bartica reading Naipaul’s ‘The Enigma Of Arrival’, or Martin Carter’s poems, or Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’?

Days spent like that fuel the mind and enlarge the spirit, causing the soul to soar to new heights of possibilities.

In Craig Village on the East Bank of Demerara, for example, such an empowered citizenry would transform the community into the most beautiful of places to live.

Each person in today’s world has that opportunity to self-develop. Each person could rise to what’s possible. Each person could dream a dream and make it reality.

The world is now a level playing field, and under the global system of meritocracy, anyone could rise to make a solid contribution to his or her community.

This column aims to inspire readers with this belief, that personal transformation is possible. We want our readers, individually, to aim for a life that is worthy, fruitful, inspiring and that contributes to community development.

And it’s so easy today. Personal development is all about the mind, fuelling and developing the mind to feel and think, to see and imagine how society could be.

Out of an educated imagination, we could each of us work to transform this society. We could each imagine how the social space could be and make it happen.

We could engage in fruitful conversations to share our ideas and our thoughts, and enrol others in our dreams and visions.

Martin Luther King engaged America with his conversation about his dream. “I dream a dream”, he said, and the nation rose up to transform a land forever, and in the process transform the world.

Mahatma Gandhi in India dreamed of a nation free and united, and engaged in a national conversation that inspired the world.

Today, in Guyana, we could also fuel our imagination to become, in the words of the late Canadian literature professor Northrup Frye, a people of “educated imagination”.

The time we take to complain and gripe about the current situation, or the bureaucratic bungling and lack of vision and drought of ethics in government officials, could be time well spent otherwise occupied, in becoming personally empowered. The world is at our fingertips.

All it takes is for us to make the time to develop our minds. Life’s as simple as that.

When we look around us and see those folks who have achieved outstanding lives, we are looking at the products of hours and hours spent in pursuing higher education, in reading serious works, in developing minds.

We should not be deceived by economic wealth, as many have achieved lots of money by illicit, illegal and unethical means. That sort of wealth rarely lasts, and fades within a generation or two. What matters is one’s intelligence.

Our goal should be to build a life that leaves a lasting legacy, that is timeless and stretches across the generations.

As we look at our life every day, we ought to feel and see how our contributions would hold up 50, 100 years from now.

We build for the future generations to stand on ground we have laid, and in that our lives become worthy, fruitful and enjoyable.

Our generation has the tools to completely transform the world for our children and grandchildren.

All it takes is an hour a day, time to tap into the vast knowledge vat of this exciting global village.

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