This I Believe

  • This I believe
    I believe in science and art,
    and the practice of design that brings them together
    to change the world.
    I have three wildly inventive young daughters and they have opened my eyes to my belief in the mystery and power of creative invention.
    They remind me on a daily basis of my belief in the scientific method of questioning our experience.
    And my belief in the vast unknown.
    My work as a designer demands the intersection
    of these two great cultures of our time:
    Science and the arts.
    In our society they mostly live separate lives,
    developing separate world views, distinct methods,
    and segregated communities of thought and practice.
    The more I work as a designer —
    a practice that demands the constant negotiation of the boundaries and intersections of these two worlds — 
    the more deeply committed I am to the foundation of science.
    The historical scientific project,
    to build a common language of human knowledge,
    where any scientist working anywhere
    can challenge and revise and add to our shared resource,
    is perhaps the greatest human achievement of all time.
    It is a practice that is beyond race or nationality or religion.
    It is supremely egalitarian and ultimately global and collective.
    It is a shared human resource,
    equally accessible from anywhere, by anyone.
    It is on this human foundation of knowledge that we solve the challenges we face as a global society.
    It is science that has opened up the electromagnetic spectrum so that we can explore the universe in all of its complexity.
    It is science that has allowed us the wonders of communication so that you can hear my voice today, wherever you are.
    It is science that has built the tools that have overcome diseases like smallpox, and sars, and soon polio and others.
    It is science that has built the pathway out of the dark night of ignorance, mythology, superstition and religion. Allowing us to replace imaginary stories with hard won empirical knowledge.
    But my commitment to scientific knowledge in no way diminishes my belief in the mystery and power of the arts.
    It is art that sings to us and opens our hearts to one another.
    It is art that gives meaning to things that would otherwise go unnoticed.
    It is art that connects us to our past.
    It is art that cracks a smile and laughs at our limitations.
    It is art that speaks to us of the darkness we cannot say out loud.
    It is art that proves our worth, that demonstrates our capacity as inventors and lovers and wild untamed beings.
    And in the end it is art that allows us to understand and express science.
    In my practice of design these two worlds
    of aesthetics and scientific knowledge,
    of mystery and certainty, of intuition and expertise,
    come together to create new possibilities for shaping our world.
    Everything I do as a designer draws on the arts and the aesthetic dimension of cultural life, and rests on the foundation of the scientific project.
    At no time in human history has the potential for designing solutions that contribute to the benefit of humankind been greater than it is today. And, because of the growing body of knowledge in both science and the arts, it will be even greater tomorrow.
    When I watch my three young daughters draw and write and sing and dance with abandon, I am confirmed in my belief in our power as creative beings. My challenge as a parent, and our collective challenge, is simply to allow that creative force to live as my daughters grow, and emerge and shower us with its gifts.
    For This I Believe,
    I am Bruce Mau, in Toronto.