We reverence the new.
Instagram is creating new ways to communicate with each other.
Harvard researchers have created news ways to control drones with the mind.
Banksy has introduced new styles in art to increase our interest in both politics and art.
Elon is building the first electric car company and privatizing space.
And the new is generally good. Great even.
And we reverence it.
Babylonians and Egyptians developed cuneiform, First Nations invented smoke signals, Pony Express riders connected an entire nation, and salty mariners laid oceanic cable so continents could talk.
Before Harvard research;..
Ancient Hindu gurus developed the ideas of chakras, understood as “the king who turns the wheel of his empire”; a singular teacher sat under a Bod-hi tree to develop his mind to help others and launched a movement; Lao Tsu stepped outside of his class to cultivate his mind and character to influence a nation; Solomon prayed to God not for riches but for wisdom to lead a people with his mind; Franklin sought the wisdom of the ancients to improve his city by improving his thinking; and an uneducated longshoreman day-laborer spent his day musing how despots ruled others and authored ‘The True Believer’ to set people free.
Cavemen and women attempted to capture their experiences with drawings and invented pigments, Greek spies passed cryptograms on the interior of dynamically designed clay pots, Da Vinci made near-permanent political commentary with the Sistine Chapel, Frank Lloyd Wright crafted Fallingwater House to remind us of our connection between living and nature, Sagmeister carved on and photographed himself to make a statement for AIGA, and Queen rocked Live Aid and connected everyone from the royal family to the commoners to the poor in Africa.
Galileo thought to point the long-used telescope to observe heavenly bodies; Greeks invented different forms of math to explain the movement of the objects in space; Benjamin Franklin saw unique needs closer to home, invented things people in his city needed, and became the “information highway” of his time; Henry Ford invented a car before we even knew what cars were.
To only reverence the new is to forget the awe and wonder those of the past had when they created something new.
To reverence those of the past is to learn that you, too, can be a producer of something new today.
And that is better than to simply be a consumer of what other people are creating.