This I Believe

George - East Elmhurst, New York
Entered on May 31, 2006

Mistakes, the Innovations of the Future

As an unavoidable aspect of human life, mistakes are the cornerstones of improvement. Any person can make a mistake, but learning from one is what differentiates the intellectuals in our society from the foolish. A mistake is a door of opportunities when put in the path of the right person.

Nature’s method of education is to learn from mistakes. When man first appeared on the earth, did he know exactly what foods were poisonous and which were good to eat? Could they have known clever hunting methods without ever failing? The answer is obviously no. Human beings have gained the knowledge and experience they possess today through trial and error. As a naturally curious society, human beings sample everything they can think of. Their curiosity has even taken them up and out of this world into the depths of outer space. However they did not arrive at that level of innovation without a few mistakes along the way. Several space shuttles have exploded upon launch, but just as every mistake has its bad side it also has its good side. These shuttles may have provided valuable data to the scientists designing the space crafts so that the same malfunction won’t happen again. Although mistakes are useful to gain knowledge, they have a price whether it’s small or big.

Mistakes can sometimes exact a cost. A person can move back three steps with a fatal mistake and only move two steps up with what is learned from that error. Take the art of war for an example. Currently we are fighting in Iraq. This may be seen as a mistake on numerous levels, however whatever we learn from that error, whether it be never to start wars again or to never kill, will never replace the lives lost by that mistake. In the long run human beings might benefit from these lessons but who’s to say how long human existence will survive. Another contemporary example may be global warming. As humans poison our atmosphere everyday we are eroding our ozone layer. This may bring negative effects such as exposure to too many UV rays. It is highly probable that a mistake of this magnitude could teach mankind about pollution, however with the atmosphere already destroyed how can human beings apply what they have learned. Although mistakes may obtain advantageous data, it is useless when the data itself is inapplicable as a result of the mistake.

Although costly at times mistakes can both be positive and negative. In the hands of a knowledgeable person a mistake can be turned from a negative to a positive. This however does not expel the fact that some mistakes are a little too big to chew on. A person’s judgment and reasoning is what makes the mistake of today the innovation of tomorrow.