The pandemic period has given us the challenge, the space, together with the time to stand back and reflect on human life and many questions that baffle our minds and irritate our understanding. While you have had more time with your children at home these days, you should ask yourself if you have taken the chance and trouble to teach your young ones to think over situations and to make the useful connections and synthesis in order to solve some disturbing issues to better their own situations, however simple this may be! Even when this means fixing their own toy, you would have set your child on the right reflection path that sends us to pose the what, why, how, where, and when questions, leading to problem solving. As we pray and push our scientific community to come up with solutions concerning COVID 19, have we tried to do our part by preparing our young future leaders and scientists to begin playing their part, by learning to think deeply about issues and to speculate simple answers to the questions raised around them?
As Africans or Ugandans, we are known to delegate the art of deep reflection and critical thinking to far- off people on the other continents, who we think have a lot of idle time and nothing better to do. We also have the knack of waiting to hear our President stress the importance of science subjects and critical thinking and imagination showing up in our curriculum, while we do not move a finger to do some ground work with our children to prepare them to solve our most challenging problems today; mostly COVID-19.
For some years now, we find that enormous amounts of scientific knowledge has been gathered and correlated and we have used it to solve many of our live’s situations. Modern dentistry, for example, has saved us the excruciating pain of deep cavities and has afforded us nice smiles in our photography that our counterparts before the 20th Century did not conceive. There is a plethora of stunning inventions in all areas of life; in artificial intelligence, spacecraft, and suchlike, and we bless God for them. But as we acknowledge the power of the minds and efforts of those inventors who shouldered these innovations, are we preparing our young ones to take on the mantle, to use their minds to change crippling situations. Do we have a moment with them to set provoking challenges that stimulate their thinking, imagination, and creativity? We can do this by leaving our children with tasks to solve, with creative puzzles to solve, with daily life situations to unravel in our homes.
This time round, despite all our euphoria about our scientific achievements, we have been made to reconsider our place as humans in the cosmic picture during this COVID-19 pandemic. We wonder what our real place and purpose on this planetary round is. Since the last global pandemic in last centuries, It is only now that we experience these minute, invisible, and invisible creatures, weigh heavily on our shoulders; breaking our hearts, and our every norm, while locking us down in our domiciles. We see these unrelating creatures snatching our beloved ones and causing us such untold traumatic experiences as they get buried in ominous ways by white-clad figures shovelling earth upon them in a matter of seconds. We are no longer “man and woman conqueror” of the earth, we have been dethroned and sent back to those Socratic times to find new ways to solve our more complex problems. It is therefore imperative that we begin early enough to teach our children to be speculative, to sharpen their imaginations so they can get into the arena with our counterparts on the other planets to solve world perturbances. Albert Einstein underscored that imagination is better than knowledge and we can check out if we have tried to use this time with our children to whet their imaginations and to spark off their creativity.
We are reminded again about our lack of total control over nature’s forces and creatures. Wearing my mask each time, I cannot help to think that we are in a world that is both friendly and hostile. On one hand the earth gives us life, while on the other it inflicts pain and inhibitions, starting with breathing in a double-layered mask! This whole state of things suggests to us, a new response planted in a deeper reflection, a change of mindset or mental models. We need to invite our young minds to learn and to appreciate the art of reflection and rationalizing that may guide our actions and lead our country to prosperity.
As our young ones claim for their power and turn to rule the nation and the world, they must understand that the foundation and real battle is first and foremost fought in the mind. It is so clear that wars are founded on a philosophy, or on efforts to destroy one. This implies then that we must take the responsibility to help our young ones use their mind early enough. We need to take time to build in them a foundation of deep reflection and great imagination.For all endeavours to change our country and solve our pandemics and similar impasses, there must be a very steadifast house of reflection that spreads its quarters to a good selection of people. Napoleon signed the statement that, there are two powers in the world, the sword and the mind. In the long run, the sword is always beaten by the mind. What are you doing for your children while you have this chance with them in your house? Are you taking great pains to prepare them for a life worth living, by sharpening their mind in speculation and in similar important ways?
Sr Dr Najjuka Solome
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences