Einstein and the Elderly Man in Stockholm’s Metro
May be people are right saying I cannot wrap up my professional mind and consciousness, leave it somewhere and stroll around, enjoying myself as possibly other people do. But I think it is not anything like that – it us nothing else than common sense. So, taking the opportunity to do a bit of a touristy side trip (actually yes, Stockholm: I’m lovin’ it), I left bit earlier – and at the central station I saw that I hadn’t been the only one. A colleague from Uruguay asked me for the green line of the tunnelbana. I explained to her as good as I could:
Por favor síganme. Estoy yendo más o menos la misma manera.
It is the opposite platform of the red line which I have to take to Södermalm.
Arriving on the platform she looked puzzled, and I showed her again on the map. An elderly man asked us:
Du förlorat? Kan jag hjälpa?
All questions had been solved in a blink of an eye – and with some arms and pointing of fingers and looking into each others faces, this replacing words (which we didn’t have in the needed language) – she walked green, I walke red. The old man “walked black” – even in a rich country like Sweden there are people depending on what they find in the black plastic bags of the rubbish bins.
Sure, he has time – time to help, time to wait for any train taking him at any time to anywhere. Perhaps it is the fear of people to end in a similar situation that urges them to be pushy: as soon as the train arrives they want to jump on board, disregarding those who disembark, disregarding those who are in front of them.
It is surely an entirely different story that comes to my mind when I visit later the Nobel-museum.
I’m tremendously impressed by Albert Einstein – yes, I know about the issues: women, emancipation …. – sure, very much two different stories. But leaving the “dislikes” aside, there is one thing I appreciate so much. In the exhibition it says
You have to be brave to think differently. Albert Einstein was daring. He read all the books about physics he could find and agreed with some of what he read but not with everything.
And my personal emphasis:
HE WANTED TO THINK FOR HIMSELF AND NOT JUST ACCEPT WHAT HE READ.
Today it seems that Nobel laureates – not least in the area of economics – are those who are “there in time”. A kind of “per-trend-setters”: they sniff around, see obvious gaps, reproduce the solutions that are known already, presenting them with a slightly new flavour – and rush to the door as soon as it opens. And they aren’t even surprised (do the actually even mention) when the door opens towards a deep cave of eclecticism: spider webs of commissions that lack anything beyond pragmatism.
It may be that the insight from a station at the tunnelbana in Stockholm and the thought about the Nobel laureates are two completely different stories. It defitely is one story – and one that is hugely relevant here – that there is no Nobel laureate for economics. We should never forget: it is The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. A prize for opportunists and pragmatists but usually not for brave visi0naries.