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The Nation of Imagination2012.08.06

    The original Chinese character for nation was 國 (kuni). It is composed of the 3 radicals 戈 (spear, sword) showing military might, 一 (ground) representing land, and 口 (dominion) meaning territory, surrounded by a larger 口 (enclosure) being a border. This is how nations have been defined, defended, and extended through much of history.


    Interestingly, the character without the larger 口 (enclosure) border is written as 或 (aruiwa), a word that can be translated as either, or, perhaps, as well as, something much less defined than a nation.


    Might there be new and novel ways of thinking about the word nation? It’s roots are related to the word natal, suggesting birth, tribe, or common ancestry. The politics of domination have drawn borders that force people to live together or apart. But the reality of economics and environment is that we are all in this together.


    Craig Valentine, the 1999 World Champion of Public Speaking, said he learned a new way to think about the nation from a homeless woman in Baltimore whose daily mantra was, “Imagination is the best nation in the world.” Those were powerful words that got him thinking about how imagination can create our future. But she said it to him so often with her hand out asking for money that one day he asked her to stop saying that! Then she told him, “The next best nation in the world is donation!”


    Albert Einstein is known as the father of modern physics, certainly the most influential physicist of the 20th century, and was also a champion of imagination. In his own words:


    “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions.”

    “Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”

    “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”


    How can we go beyond the limits of our own nation, and explore the wider world of the imagination?


    Learning a foreign language is a time tested way to go beyond the borders of your own language and explore the ways of thinking and speaking in a foreign tongue. It requires tremendous perseverance over time to master, slows you down for almost any task that you otherwise take for granted, and forces you into a world of constant uncertainty and discovery. Few people are willing to stay so long outside of their comfort zone, but the reward if you do is that in time you will have a much larger comfort zone! A more global perspective, and a larger range for your imagination.


    Something of this can be achieved by traveling to and living in foreign countries, although the tourist industry has made it more comfortable and less challenging that it used to be. Making friends with people from other cultures will give you opportunities to develop greater flexibility and tolerance, as you learn to see the world through their eyes too.


    People who have a good imagination are naturally attracted to the arts, music, theater, cinema, and books. The liberal arts provide rich food for the imagination. They can also help you relax and get your thoughts flowing whenever your mind gets stuck.


    Einstein loved to sail, and though he never learned to swim, he would often spend time on a sailing boat, to relax and think with notebook in hand. He also played the violin quite actively until the last few years of his life, not only to relax, but also in local recitals and impromptu groups. Without his active imagination, perhaps Einstein would never have left his menial position as an assistant examiner in a Federal Patent Office in Bern, Switzerland.



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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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