Giving must become thinking
The “giving programmes”, now widely developed by Social and Charity Organisations, are a major contribution to easing the trauma of changes taking place all around us. Singapore’s approach of individuals creating “Idea by idea” is right. Step by step is how things get done. Ideas generated and volunteerism thus enlisted are critically important in many ways – meeting an ageing society’s needs and exercising true democracy among them.
There have been such programmes before but they have usually concerned themselves with helping the disadvantaged. In a very real sense we are all disadvantaged today. Of course, most of us are fantastically advantaged, too. But technology is demanding and often linked to phony process and meaningless jargon. No wonder we are confused.
“Giving” programmes need to flower into “thinking” programmes. Just as every pill has a side effect so every technological advance creates a new problem even as it solves another. The sum of the problems created by new technology amount to changes in the culture we live in. Cultural change is inevitable but in a democracy we all need to watch the changes and see if they meet our fundamental requirements for a civilised and fulfilled life.
Technology can train our minds away from focus and towards sound-bite. It can do even worse things to our mental behaviour. Every question you can imagine is now answered on Google. Very convenient, but it is making us lazy about thinking. We type in the question and out comes the answer. We accept that at face value. Question answered. But it shouldn’t be. What you now have is only the superficial answer to your question. As with all answers you must examine it as thoroughly as if it was a new mobile phone.
There are eleven questions you should apply to any answer:
Is the material on which the answer is based valid? How is that guaranteed (if it matters)?
What checks must I do to ensure its correctness?
Is the answer usable? Does it deal with whatever I was seeking to resolve or create?
If it doesn’t, where can I look for a more useful answer?
Am I asking the right question?
What is the implication of the answer? Does it lead to other questions?
How can I apply this answer effectively? Just quoting or repeating what was done to create that answer is thoughtless and potentially dangerous.
How could I improve on the answer (if it was a solution to a problem)?
Too busy to do that? You are facing the same as a lot of people. Too much work, largely engendered by procedure and process often quite pointless and frustrating. So the answers are accepted and applied just as they were before. The result is potential disaster.
Let our useful “Idea by idea” extend to “Thought by thought”” by asking ourselves “Am I asking the right question?