Laozi said “I have three treasured objects: kindness, thrift and daring not to precede the world.” Although this adage is spoken highly of, as a matter of fact, it is no more than an amulet. Daring not to precede the world is daring not to explore and strive for originality, which is a big enemy for the development of science.
In my opinion, everyone should have the courage to be the first in these rapidly developing times. Daring to be the first is the motive of scientific development. Whether in the history of China or the world, the advances and development of science can both embody those people who advocate science and that spirit of daring to be the first. The development of human being’s culture cannot be held separate from science. Furthermore, the development of scientific technology cannot be realized without this spirit.
On April 6th 1880, a commentary in the New York Times said Edison’s electric light couldn’t match the vapor lamp and that because eight electric bulbs need a generator to work, it would require 250,000 generators to power the whole of New York. However, a generator costs $400 and an investment of $500-700 million in total. Apparently, this is impossible. This report quoted authorized opinions of a famous expert in electrics who commented that electric light would disappear with Edison before long, after momentary prosperity. However, Edison, with his spirit and diligence on the project, completed his generating factory and it began to operate, providing electricity for several districts across New York and Philadelphia and the rest is history.
These kinds of examples are numerous. In foreign cultures, there have been many adventurers. For example, Chinese Shennong risked his life tasting hundreds of different herbal medicines, with an unprecedented disregard for his own life, for the sake of future generations. Also, there was Bruno who irritated the Roman tribunal ruled by pontiff who believed in geocentric theory in order to uphold heliocentric theory put forward and established by Copernicus. Finally, he was tied by the executioners to the iron pole in Rome square and burnt to death. After foreign experts were withdrawn halfway, Chinese scientists strived on the desert and produced the first A-bomb and struck back strongly. Today with the policy of reform and openness, our scientists dare to set foot onto paths that haven’t been trod by others such as genetic engineering, superconductor fields, carrier rockets and the research and design on mainframe computers, which have allowed China to take the lead in these fields. It is not strange in China to breed an ear on a mouse’s head and a cloned sheep or cow. It is true that creativity, exploration and the spirit of daring to be the first are the pulses of social revolutions. Without the first person who ate the crab, there would be no crab on the menu today . But for those undaunted explorers, humanity couldn’t have survived this long. We need to praise the pioneers and the courage of scientists or explorers.
It is because of the inventions and creations of the pioneers that science can develop, society can advance and cultures can be elevated. Those with conformism who don’t think of progress will never experience the joys of the innovators. Times are advancing, society is making progress and cultures are developing.The spirit is more important however, and more dependent on the quality of the people.
Chinese people need education and in order to achieve this, all we can do is to upgrade our cultural and scientific ability, and our ideological and ethical standards. The times need us — the new generation who are brave enough to explore. We are more in need of the spirit of daring to be the first, while appreciating the creative and exploratory achievements made by our predecessors. We will live up to the ancients’ expectations and have a clear conscience to the posterity with exploitation, enterprising spirit, explorations, creativity and the spirit of daring to be the first.
The writer is the China correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.