The power of imagination
“The man who has no imagination has no wings.” — Muhammad Ali
As we look at the world we take in information through our five senses. From the time we are born we see, hear, smell, taste and touch to gain an understanding of our surroundings. While all animals also have five senses, we as humans are able to do something special with the information we receive. Through evolution, we have developed a part of our brain which allows us to process information and not just react to our situation, but to actually imagine what could happen and make choices. To take information in through our five senses gives us knowledge, but that knowledge is limited without an imagination to see the hidden possibilities. Albert Einstein said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” This is powerful! As a former teacher I know that we focus a lot of time in schools drilling knowledge into our children. There is a set curriculum and standards that children are expected to meet. We give them tests to make sure that they have adequate knowledge. Since the scores on those tests are important to the district a large portion of time is spent making sure the kids are prepared with enough knowledge to pass. When do we ever test for imagination? When kids daydream they are scolded and told to focus on the knowledge that is being presented. While there are a few classes like art and music where kids are encouraged to use their imagination, the time is limited. When we think about everything that has been created in the world, it was first a thought in someone’s imagination before it became a thing. Edison imagined creating a system of illumination before the light bulb was invented. Walt Disney imagined a mouse before a cartoon was developed. The inventors of the chair, fork, toothbrush and every other item we use first had a thought and imagined it before they set out to create it. We are at a critical point in our human history. There are problems we are facing which knowledge cannot solve. What we need now is imagination. Many people think they don’t have a good imagination, but they do just fine at imagining everything that can go wrong. What would happen if we all took some time to imagine what could go right–to imagine a world we would love to live in? What if we imagined political parties and countries working together and solving problems that once seemed impossible? What if we imagine solutions for energy, the economy, education and violence? What kind of world could we create if we all imagine a world of peace? Maybe it is time to find out….
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