Do penguins have knees?
Ariel Fana’afi Ioane.
Why do fluorescent lights make that “plink” noise when you turn them on?
Why do cowboy hats have a dent in them?
Do our ear lobes have any purpose?
Why are non-sweet wines called “dry”?
Why do dogs have wet noses?
Who put the butter in butterfly?
How do fish sleep?
Why do scabs itch so much?
Questions, questions, questions. Every day we ponder 100 and one things (at least I do!). Our brain is a natural functioning computer that processes different things and wonders about what we don’t understand. We humans consider ourselves the “upper” species because of this one thing - our intelligence. With every generation we improve on things our forefathers left with us.
For as long as man can remember, we have used sounds and clicks to communicate with each other. By making these sounds and assigning a meaning to each note, we developed different LANGUAGES. This allowed people to share their thoughts with others in a way that was understood. In time, talking to another person next to you wasn’t enough. The people you wanted to communicate with were a million miles away. Again mankind created a solution to the problem at hand – writing. The written language helped our race to communicate with each other regardless of the distance.
Nowadays even writing on a piece of paper and sending it takes too long. In our time instant communication is needed and BAM! Enter social media. You can email someone 3000 miles away and they will receive your message within seconds. One picture can be viewed, shared and commented on with one thumb stroke on a smartphone.
We didn’t just skip from pen and paper to Wi-fi and instant communication. As each generation came to pass we added on more to the past design. With each year and age we add on new ideas, new theories, as we accomplish and fulfill the old dreams our forefathers had before. Ah, I hear you say, “But that is normal in the course of life. Revolution and the increase of technology is to be expected as time passes by.” Are you sure?
Andre Gide, a French author of many renowned books and winner of the Nobel prize for Literature in 1947, stated that “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
The great names of today like Galileo Galilei, Marie Curie, Alfred Wegener, Alexander Fleming, Nelson Mandela, and many other heroes and heroines of this day and age were not so celebrated when they were doing what they are now famous for. They were laughed at. Mocked and labeled “crazy,” “barbaric,” “insane,” and “possessed.” These people were made fun of for what they believed was true because it was different and at that time, seemed unreasonable.
However, these people pushed on. They believed in their work, they didn’t let gossip or mockery stop them. Prison cells and financial failure did not shut down their minds in which their brilliant thoughts were birthed and held. They were unafraid to share and prove their beliefs, even if it meant that they had to go through suffering and pain.
Galileo died blind because he stared at the stars for so long it affected his eyesight. Marie Curie died from overexposure to radium, an element she was studying. Alexander Fleming nearly gave up hope in finding a cure for infected wounds.
But what came of it?
Thanks to Galileo, astronomers have proven and deducted our distance from the sun and other planets. The studies of radium lead to a better understanding of radiation and nuclear properties. And do I really need to explain how much the current world now relies on antibiotics?
These people were fearless. They stepped into the deep ocean and threw away any memory of the shore to search for the seas of truth, to find caves of wonder; to seek what is right and just. They are the reason we are blessed with the knowledge and technology we have today.
The hope of our future and the next step ahead is in our hands. The choices we make will influence not only our lives, but the lives of our children, and our children’s children – in fact, for all who are to come after us! What kind of people are we turning out to be?
“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
Then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
- William Shakespeare, from Macbeth.
Are we going to be a generation of poor players that strut and waste our lives squawking and fretting? Are we going to be idiots that thunder and play with words that have absolutely no significance?
We need groundbreakers! We need people with guts and courage! We NEED to make change. Change for the better. We don’t need brief candles that get easily blown over when winds bellow. Our world still needs help. Our environment is at jeopardy. Our brother and sister islands are already sinking and our reefs, mangroves and forests are rapidly disappearing. Our developing country still grieves the lives lost because of the lack of health services; employment rates drop as the unemployed youth grow in numbers.
Don’t just dream and wish for change to walk around the corner. A man can’t just dream what he wants to see. He must keep his feet firmly on the ground so he can make that dream a reality. If you want to see the change, BE THE CHANGE. Our world needs more people with spines, people with ideas, people who aren’t afraid to change the world and do what is right.
If you think we are not a people of courage, think again. Our forefathers travelled the seas without GPS, without a compass, but with their knowledge of the stars and their audacity. They were warriors, they were orators, they were pioneers. Our forefathers, men with no PhDs or Degrees fought for the freedom that you take for granted know. The blood of our ancestors was shed so you could live and belong to an Independent State.
We Samoans are not cowards. We come from a line of courageous and gutsy people. Who says we cannot be that kind of breed again?
Don’t be afraid to do what is needed to do. Don’t be a broken record that repeats useless information and doesn’t do anything about it. Be the change needed. Cross that ocean fearlessly. For if we do, we are not only giving the next generation a better world to live in; but we are also honoring our forefathers who entrusted us with this task.