The Obligations of Insight

We had a very deep conversation this morning.  It was about what you need to do if you can see the problem that nobody else can see and can describe a possible answer that nobody else has articulated.

It is, unfortunately, the case that most people are generally unable to see the problem or an answer, if they are overwhelmed with prejudices, unquestioned assumptions, traditions, orthodoxies and ambient propaganda designed to shore up the status quo.  Those are all obstacles to understanding the true nature of the problem and hence, prevent the thinking out of effective answers.  If you are one of the very few that sees differently and through this insight, see a less catastrophic way forward, what are you to do with that information?

You could take the position that you also could be wrong, that nobody would listen to you anyway and that the majority of people, lost in a maze of obfuscation, false information and untruths, would be hostile to your insights and solutions.  Life’s too short to fight battles with people incapable of seeing what you see, right?

Worse still, what if you encounter a conventional, expert analysis of the problem, which you can see right through, but which offers solutions that you, a minority, can see as massively flawed?  What if their proposed solution is actually at the root of the problem?  Are you compelled and obliged to do anything?  There are many other things to do with one’s time on Earth.  Why fight conventional thinking?  What if you choose to do nothing?

This dilemma has beset artists for time immemorial.  There are artists that have seen that the predicted inevitabilities are not so and that other, more imaginative futures can exist (and perhaps should).  They can remove the mental constraints that bind all other analysts, see the difference between immutable laws and optional, human games and arrive at a solution that is far more preferable to the doomed, default future that people generally believe is inevitable.  It’s what artists do, after all.

This insight might be wholly unwelcome to the artist.  They might be content to remain in ignorance, but through some dark quirk of fate, they’ve become a recipient of some unusual, lucid perspective.  Now, instead of conducting their artistic practice in peace, getting on with an ordinary, quiet life and pursuing their own dreams and bliss, they are plagued with something important that they cannot simply sit on or ignore.  It will take time, work, effort, sacrifice, prolonged concentration and a great deal of emotional energy to present their thoughts to others.  Considerable stress, ridicule and violent opposition will also come along with the act of spelling out the analysis and answers they can see.  Their life’s project will be utterly subverted and their whole life diverted in the service of explaining what it is that they know.  Truth can be a total bitch.

Why would anybody put themselves through this torment?  It’s just an idea, after all.  Initially, its only existence is inside your head.  You could simply choose to forget it.  Have you ever tried to forget something deliberately, though?  It’s almost impossible, isn’t it?  Unlearning is hard.  So what should you do?

I think it comes down to what you think about your fellow man and if you take any comfort from foreseeing a future disaster, but standing by and doing nothing.  It also comes down to whether you think you will be immune from the effects of the problem you are certain everybody else will soon be facing.  Are you going to be a winner because of your insight?  If so, are you content to see everybody else lose?

Being the lone prophet can be lonely, isolating, dangerous and depressing.  It will make demands on your stamina, self confidence, health and well being.  Will your strategy be to try to selfishly protect yourself and let everybody else take care of their own situation, or do you want to share your best outcomes, even if those are currently only theoretical and not in anybody else’s consciousness?  Does starting a wider conversation about different possibilities help anyone at all?

These are not easy questions to grapple with or answer.  If you are given the gift of far sight and way seeing, you are obliged to share your insights and solutions with the rest of humanity, for humanity’s sake.  Otherwise, the default future will come to pass and a lot of people will suffer.  If you have any sort of conscience, that’s not a situation most people of integrity would be comfortable living with.

So there you have it.  You didn’t ask for the insights, but they are thrust upon you and with them, the obligation to share them, for the sake of people unable to see what you can.  Your life will be hijacked and changed in unpredictable, uncomfortable ways, but you’re helpless to resist.  Derogation of your enforced duty will be as unacceptable to your life as grappling with disseminating your insights and ideas.  You’re stuck in an insoluble dilemma.  Ignore your insights and suffer with the guilt of not having spoken out, or explain your insights to others and suffer the intrusion into your existence and the denigration that comes from being the first to say something different.

Not much of a choice, really, is it?

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About tropicaltheartist

You can find out more about me here: https://michaeltopic.wordpress.com/. There aren’t many people that exist in that conjunction of art, design, science and engineering, but this is where I live. I am an artist, a musician, a designer, a creator, a scientist, a technologist, an innovator and an engineer and I have a genuine, deep passion for each field. Most importantly, I am able to see the connections and similarities between each field of intellectual endeavour and apply the lessons I learn in one discipline to my other disciplines. To me, they are all part of the same continuum of creativity. I write about what I know, through my blogs, in the hope that something I write will resonate with a reader and help them enjoy their own creative life more fully. I am, in summary, a highly creative individual, but with the ability to get things done efficiently. Not all of these skills are valued by the world at large, but I am who I am and this is me. The opinions stated here are my own and not necessarily the opinion or position of my employer.
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5 Responses to The Obligations of Insight

  1. Nice post Michael. Somehow it brings this quote to mind:

    As a rule, I am very careful to be shallow and conventional where depth and originality are wasted.
    Lucy Maud Montgomery
    (1874-1942)

  2. tinemagpayo says:

    “So there you have it. You didn’t ask for the insights, but they are thrust upon you and with them, the obligation to share them, for the sake of people unable to see what you can.”

    This inspired me to write more.Your life will be hijacked and changed in unpredictable, uncomfortable ways, but you’re helpless to resist. Thank you 🙂

  3. tinemagpayo says:

    *my first comment was as messy as my head haha here’s the right one:

    “So there you have it. You didn’t ask for the insights, but they are thrust upon you and with them, the obligation to share them, for the sake of people unable to see what you can. Your life will be hijacked and changed in unpredictable, uncomfortable ways, but you’re helpless to resist. ”

    This inspired me to write more.Thank you

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