Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come….Victor Hugo
If there is an Extra -Terrestrial Intelligence observing Plant Earth, he will observe two evolutions – one of living beings and the other of “ideas”. Though invisible, ideas undergo life-like transformations – birth, development, death.
The ET might wonder why humans do not palp and keep track of the parallel existence of “ideas”. Why they tend to credit every invention, every discovery, every revolution to a human protagonist while remaining oblivious to the birth and development of the idea which led to all the events. They write biographies of many humans but never a biography of an idea.
The ET will sense ideas wading-up much before they are instrumental in making events come to a pass.
At times a protagonist tries unsuccessfully to bring to shore an idea before its time has come (refer to Mangal Pandey / Rani of Jhansi above).
Abolition of slavery, air travel, the theory of relativity, abolition of racial segregation are ideas which came to life when their time had come. The ideas, not the protagonists (with due respect to them), – Abraham Lincoln, Wright Brothers, Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. – created history.
Would slavery have existed today if not for Abraham Lincoln? Without Mahatma Gandhi would India have not won independence? Or e=mc2 not been discovered but for Einstein, racial segregation continued if it was not Martin Luther King’s dream?
There are many ideas which are now dead. E.g. the idea of starting a new religion is now virtually dead. A Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, born in today’s time is unlikely to succeed in their mission. That’s why Din-e-llahi (religion propounded by Emperor Akbar in 16th century) did not succeed. And Scientology is still struggling.
My knowledge of world history and politics is patchy. I am sure if a detailed analysis is done, the birth, growth and death of ideas can make a treatise to rival Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species.
I will like to argue that iPad came when the time for the idea for touch-screen portable computers had come (not so when Microsoft launched a Windows XP touch-screen Tablet in 2002). Facebook (pan-world social interaction tool) came at just the right time (Pets and Friendster were a bit too early).
With the advent of professional online networks(LinkedIn), is the idea of online job portals dying?
Notice the sequential evolution of ideas. One idea leads to the next just as one species led to the evolution of the next. The idea of iPAD came only after the “idea” of computers had developed for a few decades.
I think that all of us are surfers on a sea waiting to surf the next big wave. As any surfer will tell you, the most important skill is predicting the next wave and where it will break.
Surfing does require other skills – balancing, paddling strength, positioning on the wave, strong calf muscles, but timing is everything.
Arab spring (popular uprising against inefficient autocracies) is an idea whose time has come. If not for Tunisia, the trigger would have come from some other country. It was an idea which was bursting at the seams.
I am sure Tata Nano (a minimal motor car) is an idea whose time has not yet come, and I am not sure if it will ever come. Though Toyota’s Prius (world’s first hybrid) was launched in 1997, it is only the past few years that it has met with great success. The idea of hybrid / electric cars has now come and companies like Tesla have caught onto it at just the right time.
Not to say that people cannot enjoy the sea without worrying about the waves. I am only arguing that to surf to glory we have to find the right wave…
Shakespeare also thought that tides are more important than men….
There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
Realizing that we are less powerful than ideas rather than the other way around, can help us surf the next big wave rather than hoping to create a wave which is not within human capability.
Which wave is waiting to be surfed? Now, that is a billion dollar question….$$$