As a current High School senior, my life up to this point has been almost entirely taking out of books and storing them in my head. My peers and I have learned facts, not theories or proofs. We can perform some calculations and use them to solve certain problems in Calculus, Physics, and Chemistry, but we don’t know why it is we solve them the way we do. We have a basic knowledge of our Physiology and the Biology of life but we don’t know where it came from. We are taught how to use things but not how and why they work. And this continues for the rest of our lives. Nearly everyone only gets one major degree. An Evolutionary Biologist will never have any idea how Intel Pentium processor makes a computer run. Likewise a computer game designer will never understand what causes the mutations that are passed on through a genome of a species that is evolving. We all become slaves to whatever path we choose.
I believe in exploring, in both a literal and figurative sense. I believe that each person should make their own path for themselves in life. I believe that in order for society to improve we need people to try a different approach to solving our problems than the last generation did. I believe in doubling back, in redoing a fundamental experiment or reproving a theorem, not for the answer but to understand the process and the theory. I believe in Thoreau’s purpose: “to live deep” and to “know [life] by experience.” I believe in questioning. I believe that ideas that cannot be proven valid through experimentation must be questioned, not necessarily to disprove them, for they can neither proved nor disproved by experimentation, but as a way to keep an open mind. I believe in President Washington’s farewell adress; in making no permanent alliances, for these alliances often hold you to one opinion and make keeping an open min impossible. I believe in exploring alone; in only traveling with someone as far as their interests and your interests are the same. I believe in being free to discover and to experience.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.