Thursday, May 15, 2008

Margaret Mead

If you haven't checked out itunes U, you're missing out! It is a whole section of itunes full of "free access to educational content from hundreds of top colleges, universities, and educationally focused organizations across the country."

I spent a good part of last weekend driving, and got to take full advantage of this amazing resource. One speech in particular caught my attention and I was totally amazed by the wisdom and insight of anthropologist Margaret Mead. If you have 80 minutes to spare, you must listen to this speech she gave on April 1st, 1964 titled "Looking a Generation Ahead" It is fascinating to hear how she imagined the world would look today. Here is a link to her speech.

If you don't have 80 minutes to spare, then take 5 to read (what I think is) the most interesting part:

Something she talks about is how not too long ago, most of the jobs out there had to do with food or other things required to live. Our occupations were also our means of survival. But now (as she predicted here in 64) so many of the jobs that used to be done by hand are done by machine. She said,

"we are going to have more food, more automobiles, more houses, than we've ever had before as our capacity is incredibly great, but we're not going to need people to make the food or the automobiles, and the only thing we've ever thought up to date as a way of feeding people is to make them work, to produce the food and to produce the other things..... we're going to have to think up some other way that people can validate their contribution to society so that people have a right to all the food and the automobiles and the houses and all the things we're able to produce."

She say's we'll have to,

"rearrange our thinking , and rearrange our economy so that each person can do the things that are needed and in turn draw enough money out of the system to buy the other things that the machines are making, because we're going to be in this odd position where we're buying from machines in a sense, rather than from each other. This is going to one of our great problems. we're going to have to rethink what it means to be a human being in a community and what kinds of contributions they have to make. "

"When you think back over the great civilizations that we go to see when we travel abroad, we judge these great civilizations by the things they built, by their temples and their theaters and their churches. We don't judge them in terms of how many hours a pheasant worked in the fields, if we did we'd judge them very harshly. We judge them as great in terms of the architecture, the cities, the music, the painting that they produced. And our task is going to be to re-value human and artist and religious activity so that everyone involved in it will be a valid and worthy member of the community , and we won't feel ourselves impoverished by the fact that we are so rich. which is the position we're in a present."

(italics mine)
This stirs all kinds of thought in me... I'll post more on it later.

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