Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist. He is known for developing the theory of relativity, a path breaking study in physics. He received the Nobel Prize in 1921 “for his services to theoretical physics, especially, for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.”
As much a prolific intellectual that he was, being absent minded was one of his traits that earned him the sobriquet of an ‘absent minded professor’. The absent minded professor is a common stereotype that profiles researchers and scientists as being so obsessed with their research that they pay little attention to anything else. Apart from Einstein many other great scientists like Newton, Adam Smith, Archimedes etc. were considered to be absent-minded– their attention being absorbed by their academic studies.
Einstein’s absentmindedness became a part of scientific folklore partly due to his physical image, complete with a shock of wild hair, sleepy eyes, and tattered clothes. And with the advent of motion picture his unruly image became all the more well known worldwide. Many interesting stories are told about the seemingly awkward consequences of absentmindedness. It is said that after years of teaching and fame, Einstein abandoned wearing socks. They were an “unnecessary complication,” he is reported to have said.
His intellectual pursuits and his contributions to body of science are indisputable. But he is also known for his sharp wit and sagacity. Despite his supposed naivet? and gullibility, Einstein in his various quotes comes across as politically discerning, farsighted and worldly wise. Though he dismisses Common Sense as the “collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen” his words of wisdom, over the years, portray him as a sharp mind with keen observation and plain wisdom.
That brings me to the state of affairs in our land and how the matters of urgency are handled here. And by those who by their own claims are quite adept and experienced in politics and polity. Not withstanding the self-pat and remarks of the high and mighty about the ‘peaceful summer’ this year, it is but a known fact that the simmering discontent— over varied issues and not necessarily only political— is being contained only by force. Brute force at that. Young boys, amateur activists on social sites, bloggers are being hounded as if they are dreaded terrorists.
Night raids have come back, and with impunity. Many a young boys are on the run fearing arrests over an innocuous remark on Facebook or having been photographed by the police during last year’s strife. The fear is palpable and reminiscent of pre-militancy days when police routinely rounded up people for attending a certain congregation or having been seen with a certain person. At that time, it was understood that this strategy would nip the ‘evil’ in the bud and deter the youth from expressing their anger and discontentment. What happened afterwards, though, should have been an eye-opener for law enforcing agencies and should have offered them insights for future.
But it seems that no such lessons have been learnt. The ad-hoc-ism that the state is beset with seems to have pervaded every level of thinking. This is seriously affectingthe future of this nation in myriad ways.
Before it is too late, the powers that be should learn alesson or two from the unforgettable words of the “absent minded’ professor where he defines insanity as: ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. Einstein has another word of wisdom for the masters of our fate that needs equal heed: “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding”!