Wednesday, August 5, 2009

So we're not all Doc Brown...

The term inventor conjures images of gurgling heated pyrex, large blinking lights on daunting ray-gun shaped apparatus, and the mad scientist hovering in his secret underground lead-lined lab.

As delicious as that concept may be, it is unfortunately quite far from the truth. Inventors are people who see a problem, and find a solution. Often the invention is not even a product in and of itself, but a bridge between the user and the original solution which often has a very difficult interface. Not everyone realizes that simple problem solving is the same as invention. This can be a lucrative endeavor, spiritually, emotionally as well as (hopefully) economically. Even if no money is made, your spirit will be exercised by the simplification of things in the world. Work towards good. Make things better. Not that hard! (right?)

Human Ecology touts invention as a centrifugal force behind bettering ones environment. I think part of what makes an inventor is the unification of self: if you have control of your mental, physical, spiritual, and social environments, you will be better able to integrate your whole wealth of knowledge and find solutions to share with others. Even going back to the historical figures of Human Ecology, Ellen Swallow Richards put forward the idea that "no Board of Health can separate the physical nature of man from his moral and intellectual parts." (Human Ecology: A View of the Issues, xiii) If you replace "Board of Health" with anything really- no business, no philosophy, no external framework....(blah blah). I think that it goes without saying that although this seems like a common sense statement, this is not how most of the world approaches problem solving, not to mention life, and leisure. When you unify your self, you can accomplish more, by thinking like a full well rounded person.

I am not sure what I think about this to the full extent, because there's so much that people do which is counterintuitive to this, which could be perceived as successful or not. For instance: people skip their spiritual attention when on vacation, or simply because they choose to eschew all spiritual intelligence, mistaking spiritual awareness with a need to be religious. When pampering themselves physically or emotionally, or working a lot, many people allow their spiritual selves to be ignored for convenience sake. Conversely, when trying to grow spiritually, many different belief systems tout fasting to allow for clarity or attention to only the internal self, shutting out the physical realm. While working the grind, people put their personal lives aside, their social life is forgotten because they choose to exert that effort into career development (which is likely subject to the law of diminishing returns). This career commitment is often revered by management (although not usually echoed by them, shocking....), but often the actual monetary rewards are negligible for the individual, and without extensive career advancement being possible, this effort may not be beneficial.
But I digress... Theres just so much to think about!

Back to Invention:
Needless to say, I like to be a problem solver. I think everyone has that potential. I have included lists and links of things which I think prove that we are all capable of bettering this world.

Things that prove that everyone desires to invent/problem solve:
The natural good feeling you have when you clean your house top to bottom
The number of things you can do with a rubber band
The vast number of paperclips which are not used for their intended purpose (80%)
The amount of things shown on DragonsDen that actually make sense

Solutions which make me happy:
Silver infused cleaning products which allow me to clean without chemicals (go Norwex!)
My uncles bent handle knife which allows arthritic seniors to butter their own bread (way to go Neil!)
Clothing drafting processes which standardize shape/fit so that everyone can design things
Ipods, computers, and all the engineering that helps me not break them into pieces with my rough treatment

Solutions which make me laugh:
All those weird infomercials selling bra strap do-hickeys or hair lifting apparatus'
Plug in Lawnmowers (how long did it take them to think of the battery charged kind?)

"Solutions" which make me sad:
Dumping things into the ocean
Not recycling
Cultural segregation and misinformation

Ok. I've said enough. (A couple of times). Try to think of something which needs to be solved, and how you can think about it outside the box... not necessarily solve the problem, even just pass it along to someone else who might have the agency to bring about a solution...

1 comment:

  1. Your posts are always thought provoking! I actually agree with the statement concerning "No ______ can separate the physical nature of man from his moral and intellectual parts." Even if we choose to ignore our spiritual self or our personal lives or any other aspect of ourself, I don't think it has been separated from us. I think we simply have chosed to ignore it or perhaps have not found a way to merge that aspect into the rest of our life. People always talk about "balance" and achieving balance in life. I think we talk about it so much because although we'd like to do it, it's really quite difficult. A boss might not like an employee who, at 2 pm, decides he needs to fulfill some personal need (such as going drinking with friends). A wife might not like her husband to fulfill that same personal need on weeknights while she's home with the kids. The tenuousness of balance!

    Okay, what problem do I see that needs to be solved? I've always thought that if we could take the flood waters from one state and somehow transport them to areas suffering drought, it would be helpful for all. If we could somehow capture and "save" the bitter chill of winter and use it to run our air conditioners in the heat of summer, that would be great too. I think of it as sort of an ecological Robin Hood....take from the place where there is plenty, and redistribute where there is deficit.