Charles Darwin once wrote, “It’s not the strongest of a species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most open to change.”
In this, I am confident that he was many years ahead of his time, and he could genuinely repeat those words today, however I feel we can go even further, and I’ll offer my reasons why shortly. First though I feel I need to dismiss any thought of my perspective being of one who doesn’t care for the starving millions in various countries around the world who are unfortunate to be born into environments that are harsh and physically demanding, with few roads out. I pity them in their circumstances and their ongoing travails.
The reality is though, that few of those will read this column. Most of those who do have very different opportunities however, and those are who, and that is what I want to challenge.
We can get up each day, have breakfast, go to work, do our jobs, no more and no less, maybe stop for lunch, do some more work, leave work at the appointed time and go home, doing whatever we enjoy doing in our evenings. Then the next day the same, and so on, and so on. We will happily draw a salary every month, and meander along happily, never changing.
My message is that it’s not enough! We were not put here on the earth to survive, but to evolve, change, challenge ourselves, and create and take opportunities!
Manal Ghosain wrote in ‘Live Bold and Bloom,’ that we crave several needs we have, of ourselves and others, especially in this social media generation before we will come out and challenge others or ourselves, and it makes pretty uncomfortable reading really.
She says we need to feel we belong with our peers, and that they will like us because they like what we do and say. That we crave recognition of our knowledge and skills, and to know that ‘someone,’ likes what we do. That we want, or need, to be seen and heard (and nothing feeds that like social media), and to know that what we say and do matters. That we need to be liked, loved and popular. That we are cared for, and finally that we are understood.
Goodness me, that makes us out to be terribly insecure doesn’t it? Have we no ability to evaluate, value, love and care for ourselves? The answer to that is yes, we do, and while Ghosain obviously moves in a coddled and sheltered environment, she does raise a good point, that we are placing far too much reliance on others, on their decisions, and their needs for us. We must free ourselves from that hamster wheel!
To survive, in Darwin’s view, is not difficult for most of us today, but it’s not enough for us, our societies, our generations, or those to follow. We must embrace words like opportunity, then take every one that comes along. We must challenge ourselves and those around us, for otherwise, apathy will win! We must have some respect for ourselves and defer respect to those around us who earn it, and not those who ask for or demand it. And we must maintain our dignity, but not arrogance!
Most of all we must understand what we are doing and why and to understand those around us. Not just know them, but understand them, for in doing so we honour their abilities, knowledge, skills, and personalities.
Darwin wasn’t a hundred percent correct you see. Our lives today are, not about surviving, but living! Seeing new places, meeting new people, eating new food, experiencing new cultures, challenging ourselves to find out what really lies inside us, and drawing out every ounce of potential. As George Elliot said, “It’s never too late to be all that you might have been.”