"The history of science is rich in the example of the fruitfulness of bringing two sets of techniques, two sets of ideas, developed in separate contexts for the pursuit of new truth, into touch with one another." J. Robert Oppenheimer, Science and the Common Understanding
Throughout the course of man's achievement, there is one sensation that has been universally lauded: collaboration. Gilbert and Sullivan collaborated to create some of the most perfect musical comedy known to man. Louis and Marie Pasteur, according to chef Alton Brown, "not only did the pair break open the world of bacteriology, they also set new standards for professional collaboration by spouses. Both of them probably would have achieved greatness on their own, but together they changed history." And, of course, we can't over look The Beatles, whose collaboration rocked the world and turned rock music into an entirely different creature.
J. Robert Oppenheimer, who I quoted above, is one of the people who saw what is perhaps the greatest collaboration in the history of the world: the creation of the first atomic bomb known to man. He oversaw the scientific facilities at Los Alamos in New Mexico, leading these brilliant minds to collaborate on the one thing that our government knew would win World War II. He was one of the most genius men to ever live and, sadly, the rest of his life after working on the project was fraught with heartbreak and humiliation when he was stripped of his security clearance to leave the country after The McCarthy Hearings branded him a Communist Supporter. He was not a Communist, he was simply a man who was not afraid of facing new ideas and immersing himself in them.
I chose the quote above for this week's Philosophical Thought because so rarely do we sit down and explore the benefits of working with others, when we wish, to create greatness. I am the first person to admit that I am not a good collaborator, because I'm very independent in my way of working, but I do collaborate with a great many people when it is needed. So often people are forced to collaborate with some and, in that respect, there is very little chance of productive behavior flourishing.
But when you work with someone who is creatively as open to your ideas as you are to theirs, a perfect synthesis can occur. The history of man is filled with people who, because of someone else's support and collaboration, have achieved great things.
But, to collaborate and to thrive as a human, you must carry with you an open mind, able to scan life and see the potential in everyday life. Two sets of eyes are more powerful than one and, when you're working with someone who understands your sense of life and your goals, you can cover more ground than if you were working on your lonesome.
Oppenheimer knew the value of colleagues, as he had some of the best minds in the world as his close and personal friends. Being a scientist is very much a collaboration, minds bouncing ideas off of others and working together towards a common goal, with everyone pulling equal weight. (Unlike those classes in high school where you were forced to work with a partner, but that's a whole other blog right there.)
My goal in writing about this is because I want you to look at your life and analyze how you have worked with others to your mutual benefit. Look at all your years and see the great joy you have achieved by allowing another person into your life, to provide another perspective. We will never achieve anything in life is we hold our heads under the water and ignore reality. Reality is that there are people constantly around us, some are good and some are bad but they are all human. They all hold potential and they all know things that you don't.
Collaboration can be even a small thing such as teaching each other another language or a new word, you both gain something and you can use those new tools to create beautiful things. But you'll never know unless you get out there in the world, breathe in the clean air and smile at those around you. Collaboration can even be seen in a passing glance, a kind hello and a warm goodbye.
Never underestimate the power that you have to change the world and the power you have to meet and learn from others, regardless of skin color, religion or philosophical belief.
We all start with the same tools in life and it's up to us to share them.