Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The Mysterious End of J. Robert Oppenheimer

I don’t make ultimatums; they’re hasty monikers of fear. As in, “I have to accomplish this or I’m a failure” or “you must do this or else.” They're self-defeating, self-aggrandizing in the false gravitas, and not healthy or fair. “Or else” is not in my vocabulary. I do something to the best of my ability because I want, know, and feel to use my full potential at every corner, adjacent corner, and dilapidated building that makes you wonder when was the last time someone lived there. Whether refugees of the mole people are squatting in there, whether someday it will be the site of a movie about a hobo who cures cancer in the flood-damaged basement filled with vats and beakers retrieved from J. Robert Oppenheimer’s winter home/lab.

I’m human, so I’ll make mistakes. Mistakes are learning opportunities, and a double learning opportunity if someone points out a mistake with extra observation slathered on it. Mix all that in your mindblender and out will pop progress.

Everything we do matters, not because life is short, but because life has millions of decisions, and each decision brings with it the possibility to affect someone close or far. Even decisions one might consider passive affect others. If I choose to not participate in a conversation or a social outing, or a work project, I’m still making a choice, that there's something more I could have done positively. Mistakes only turn into regrets if remorse overtakes opportunity. I might have dismissed it in the past, but now I revel in that tremendous power of choice. Like Emperor Palpatine, except I can’t shoot lightning from my fingers and don’t want to dominate all life in the Galaxy.

J. Robert Oppenheimer is remembered for leading the Manhattan project. After the war, he warned of politics meddling with the greatest threat to humanity—nuclear weapons. He warned of ultimatums, of having to back up courage with insanity and fear, of pushing a little red button. He knew, as he was dying of throat cancer, that progress is inherently good, but only if it’s given the respect it needs. Did he regret not openly supporting his co-workers' protests and conferences to stop nuclear proliferation? At his end, after an intense life, did he think of himself as large or small? Full of courage or fear? Questions abound.

No comments:

Post a Comment