You Were Born to Learn and You Have to Do it Right Now!

4 years, 9 months ago, reading time: 7 mins.

On November 18 and 19, 2013, I participated to an extraordinary Event in Assisi: 21min – I Saperi dell’Eccellenza (www.21min.org). It was the third edition, the first one in Assisi, after two in Milan in the past years. This time, I was mesmerized by some texts I found in the on-line brochure that I had downloaded, which I thought were really in step with the times (here are the complete texts below).

THE REVOLUTION IS UNDER WAY. Its impact is undeniable. Times are changing, geopolitical powers are changing, the demographic profile is changing, companies are changing. New societies and cultures are coming to light, social networks are transforming the scenarios of the world we live in. Everything is undergoing a great radical change. Do not underestimate the spirit of the time (zeitgeist). It’s huge. It’s strong. It’s fast. It’s irreversible. Do not stand by and watch. Move forward. Learn how to share emotions and values. Develop a flexible attitude. Be curios, attentive, available. Become a key player of this new millennium.

This Event (21 minuti) is an annual international Conference dedicated to twenty-one ideas capable of re-thinking the world, presented over two days by 21 speakers, each one with 21 minutes of time to share his/her contribution through brief presentations and music and art performances. 21 minuti is a community, a global network of people and associations who have understood that the power of ideas and sharing can promote a new way of thinking and push the world to a higher level. 21 minuti aims at addressing the needs of our era by promoting a new evolutionary paradigm, a reference point for those who wish to interact efficiently with other people, environments and rapidly evolving and ever-changing scenarios.

And then, again… Why 21 Minuti in Assisi. It’s not only an economic crisis. This crisis primarily affects our values. Identity, values and motivation, but also vision, creativity and project making. These are the new challenges that all companies have to face, to change in this changing world. Assisi is a place for international multidisciplinary confrontation. It’s a natural place for reflection, on the present and on the future of the world. Assisi is a place for listening, for silence and inspiration. A place to find the right direction, the right productivity and the right purposes. It’s a place where men and women share their excellence to create long-lasting virtuous relationships.

Everything seemed to me very topical. So, lured once again by the treasure of sharing and listening, I registered and invited dozens of friends. All of them extremely busy and probably without even the time to read my email, let alone to print the attachment and read that one too. But… I was persistent in my invitation, so that my recipients would at least try to relax, take a deep breath and, with the excuse of returning the favor of the time I was spending to write them, they could at least dedicate to themselves a minute to read my invite. In the end, some of them accepted. And these days have been very intense, full of ideas, sharing and discussions.

After the previous editions, focused on Philosophy in 2009 and Art in 2010, this year the edition was dedicated to Science. The next year’s focus will be Economy. The public was top notch. They have been two days full of inner debate, upset by the feeling that we’re now on the ragged edge of these New Dark Ages, darker than the former ones because this obscurity has taken over the consciences, and the sharp feeling that there is an infinity of minds, hearts, bodies, souls of men and women dedicated and focused on the “possibility” of a necessary Renaissance. A Renaissance that must come from within, in order to further materialize on the outside.

A chorus that has gradually become harmonious, speech after speech: everything will restart from the bottom; do not put too much trust in popular revolutions, have faith in personal and internal revolutions. Each of us has the power and the duty to change things. Doctor Mario Alonso Puig (one of the speakers), talking about one of his patients, who became deaf, blind and mute when she was 16 years old, but, despite everything, graduated with top marks from one of the best university in the US, told us how this girl, interviewed by a journalist who asked her if there was something worse than being blind, answered: “Yes. Being able to see without having a vision.”.

This, in a nutshell, is my experience in Assisi: continuously and constantly stimulating myself to see, to produce a vision of myself projected in a better future. And the same Doctor Puig, at the beginning of his speech, gave us a pearl of simplicity: “There are three words capable of opening a man’s heart: I’m sorry; please; thank you.” And I’ve suddenly become aware of this: life is simple! And, thinking about how is it possible that in nature none of the instinctive activities are naturally oriented towards any form of accumulation not related to survival (i.e. for those animals that hibernate), except for human activities; an action strongly in contrast with the ways of thinking of all the wise men and women who have populated this planet in the past centuries and who have constantly reminded us that we all get here without anything and that we all leave without anything.

So… why do we have the urge to accumulate? And, thanks also to Professor Giulio Giorello, Spinoza and one of his famous aphorism comes to my mind: “A free man thinks of nothing else than of death; and his wisdom is a meditation not on death but on life.” Doctor Tali Sharot, one of the world’s greatest experts on the mechanisms that control brain activity, exhorted us to be optimist not for the pleasure of a “frigidly positive life” but as a self-fulfilling prophecy; the possibility is thus put entirely in our hands. And thus exhorted us to avail ourselves of our (creative) imagination, since we are the only species that has developed it in such a refined way.

Speech after speech, solicitations and considerations on a constant evolution, one after the other: the considerations from space by Paolo Nespoli (Italian astronaut); the new cities of the most technological town planner in the world (Carlo Ratti); the hope of a water biodegradable plastic, produced without petroleum (Marco Astorri). A marathon of visions and possibilities to be reborn. Aside from the fundamentals of the single subjects that we learn during the different phases of our lives, I really think that these should be the new subjects taught in schools, in companies and in all placed dedicated to learning: “How to be creative”, “How to believe in yourself”, “How to nourish yourself”, “How to manage yourself”, resorting to wonder and amazement as fundamental tools to approach knowledge.

This leads me to a reflection; to me, these seem the oldest subjects of them all! In short, I believe exactly in what Doctor Paoletti, chairman of the session, has said, “Only whose who communicate, who put the people together, who share, can bring hope. And when the economic moment is rich, it inspires the creation of a new philosophical moment. You were born to learn, and it is your duty to keep on doing it.” And I dare add: “You have to do it right now!”