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EditorialsUp Front 04/12

Up Front 04/12

The website Wikipedia describes ‘brain drain’ as the large-scale emigration of a large group of individuals with technical skills or knowledge. However, a local man I once met used the term for something completely different. In the later years of his life he described ‘brain drain’ as the complete waste of all the wisdom he had gained over his many years alive. He explained that the pool of wisdom gained from experience that we all build up over our lifetime, is very hard to quantify and obviously hard to pass on. Although he had written a great deal he said that no matter how hard we try to teach our children, our friends, neighbours and fellow man, the bulk of what we have learned is simply lost when our brains finally expire. No doubt people of various religious faiths will disagree, but for the purposes of this point let’s assume there is no afterlife. He described how as parents we have often despaired while watching our children make exactly the same mistakes we made when we were their age? We roll our eyes as they make it clear that we are old and have absolutely no hope of understanding what they are going through. We might even remember, with a twinge of embarrassment and sadness, how we said exactly the same things to our parents, and realise that we not only hurt them, but failed to gain from the huge pool of wisdom they built up over their lifetime. What my wise friend went on to allude to was the vastness of that wealth of wisdom, when you multiply it by every person who has lived on the planet. What a shocking waste of the world’s most valuable asset. I thought of him yesterday whilst listening to a post budget political debate on the radio. It was obvious that, for those involved, winning the argument was more important than finding the right answer—their jobs depended on it. I imagine my friend would have produced a wry smile and said ‘we never learn, do we?’ 

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