The question, despite accomplishments and achievements, seems to remain the same: “What’s the goal; what are we doing?”Not that I would presume an answer, but Harvard University’s Pulitzer Prize-winning science author and professor Edward O. Wilson “knows” he has the answer.
First published in 1998, his best-selling book, Consilience, suggests a few thoughts pertinent to the “science” of skateboarding, or at least to the “science” of the businesses involving skateboarding.
He points out, “In the twenty-first century the world will not be run by those who possess mere information alone … We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world (the future) henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.”
Thus, our future, skateboarding’s future, and whatever else there is, depends upon our ability to perceive accurately what is “now” and make informed critical decisions leading us forward. Okay, how does that work? How do we wade through the rising tide of way too much information and develop or discover that wisdom necessary for success and happiness?
Wilson’s answer is straightforward, indeed, the entire premise of Consilience is: “That all tangible phenomena, from the birth of stars to the workings of social institutions, are based upon material processes that are ultimately reducible, however long and tortuous the sequences, to the laws of physics.” In other words, cause and effect. “Things” happen for a “reason”-the result of some cause.
What we do now will affect the future. Despite the nature of any “plan,” the future will develop based upon the present. Interestingly, I write these words as “collaborative forces” attack the “House of Knowledge.” Well, armed forces from the United States, with a bit of support from England and Australia, are attacking Baghdad. In the ninth century Baghdad was home to many of the world’s great mathematicians and was known as the House of Knowledge. It was the birthplace of what today we refer to as “algebra.” Quadratic equations, like much of what we accept as the foundation of modern-day civilization, emerged from the Fertile Crescent-the shores of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
Many fear the repercussions of today’s military action. Fears of reprisals from extremist groups are being weighed against the justification promoted to us of what a dictator might have done with alleged weapons of mass destruction. Skateboarding’s businesses have already been radically affected by the global economy’s shift over the past two years, and now “war” has further deepened our current economic slump.
Regardless of this current conflict’s immediate outcome (is there a doubt?), the impact upon the economy will not be healthy. No war-the first Gulf war, Vietnam, Korea, or either of the World Wars has ever had an immediate beneficial effect upon the economy. Every war over the past 100 years has included a period of recovery before the economies have grown back to prewar levels.
The future is the effect of today’s causes, and the global marketplace will continue to feel the pinch for the immediate future, with or without Saddam Hussein.
Thus, looking toward our future’s hindsight we can ponder where we’ll be in six months, in eighteen months, or in eighteen years. In previous columns I have shared the concept that we’re building our future now. We’re actively engaged in our own causes and effects-our own efforts of today are actively creating what will become the future of skateboarding. The critical thinking we’re engaged in today, the important choices we wisely make today are creating the wisdom or the foolishness of tomorrow. Time will tell.
I have previously suggested, like Bono, that, “We’ve got to get our act together”-meaning, in Wilson’s terms, we are our own synthesizers. We have to be the ones doing our own critical thinking–if we don’t then who will? There will be a time when the results will be assessed, when the efforts of so many, or so few, will be evaluated and subsequently appreciated. Silly me, I believe, like Edmund O. Wilson, that today will result in tomorrow.
IASC’s mission, perhaps even more significant today than six years ago, is to assist the future of skateboarding by developing what happens today. Skateboarding’s businesses depend, more than anything else, upon the activity itself-skateboarding. Can our “industry,” our businesses, continue to make decisions about skateboarding from a position of isolation? Separately? Individually?
Isn’t it time, from within an economy that is continuing in its woeful direction, to re-collect? To join with IASC’s new board of directors in a combined effort to seek the right information? To make the wise choices? To synthesize together?
Don’t we, as an industry of independent businesses, need to recognize the importance of our collective choice-to “synthesize” the future of skateboarding? It’s our critical thinking and our subsequent choices that will determine the future of skateboarding and the future of our businesses. IASC, the collective strength of the entire skateboard community, is building skateboarding’s future and the future of skateboarding’s businesses.