Horizon at Sandy Point

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Night of Awards

Natural selection might have genetically encoded choices of mate material, and descending through generations determined who and which characteristics survived. And so entrained the long route to bigger, stronger, faster - and the survival of species.  Then Eve ate the apple (figuratively speaking), and humans crossed the threshold into self-consciousness and the virtual world of morals, ethics and social responsibility. I would like to say "and the rest is history" but not quite.

At what point did we start favouring individuals for specific qualities or traits? Was it when Cain killed Abel - that we decided that the victim/ younger brother was gentler and kinder, and so mourned his loss? (And thereafter determined that fratricide was a "sin" since it deprived the family/ species of traits that though not dominant or "useful" should nevertheless be safeguarded.) At what point did Hinduism - for example - determine that some humans were born "untouchable" and others Brahmin, craftsman, or warrior, or any other caste?

By whatever route, or innate or genetic tendency, humans now have an ingrained predisposition to choose who they like or dislike, with elaborate justifications or selection criteria depending on the environment, community, tribe, or country. In the most artificial of human groupings - among them corporations, associations, trade unions, schools and universities - we learn to differentiate the tendencies or performance modes that ensure not just the survival but the sustainability of the cause or group.

In these groups, the selection process is codified and and driven by sets of rules or policy based on precedent. Recognition and reward are built into systems that may begin with financial remuneration, but extend to all manner of incentives including the "pat on the back," awards ceremonies and ritualised CEO's/ Oscar/ Emmy/ Guild events. Such awards frequently include in their criteria, creativity or innovation, or thinking "outside the box" thereby engendering the seeds of their own demise.

And so, to such a night: a great hall with banners and decoration; music and multi-media; a feast to feed a multitude; and everyone in garb and ornamentation unsuitable for anything but strutting and preening. And the awards go to ...all those selected to be present in the room? And the top awards to ... those who performed their jobs well, impressed with good presentations and reports, those who have been encultured to support the primary concept.

Let's just say it was an Awards Ceremony that will be judged on the ceremony - unfortunately for whoever may be held responsible for the glitches. Few will remember the winning projects. More memorable the mistakes and malapropisms - non-productive time management?

Next time, can we think - as the feature speaker proposed - of what's inter-generational, integral or holistic, innovative (even disruptively so)?

George Bernard Shaw: "Every person who has mastered a profession is a skeptic concerning it."

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