Curiosity seems to be an innate quality in not only humans but many other animals as well. When we are young it is our curiosity that drives us to discover and learn about the world. Often this curiosity can lead us to learning lessons the ‘hard way’ and gradually we learn to listen to those around us who are trying to keep us safe.
Curiosity is natural, and can be a good thing, but it can also be a bad thing. There are many examples in human history and culture that show this: the phrase ‘curiosity killed the cat’ warns us that we need to be careful with curiosity and the story of Pandora from ancient Greece is the ultimate warning over curiosity. After all, Zues used Pandora’s innate curiosity to lure her into a trap and allow him to punish humanity. The story teaches us that if she hadn’t have been curious, that the world would not have bad things in it, (I will come back to what lay at the bottom of Pandora’s box later).
Thinking about this led me to think about examples of where curiosity had gone wrong in history. One example I came up with was Rutherford and his discovery of the nucleus of an atom. He was driven by curiosity, like many scientists and wanted to understand more about the world around him, and their is nothing wrong with this; but unfortunately in this case (and many others) there were unforeseen consequences.
I am not saying that the discovery of nuclear power was a bad thing, there have definitely been some good consequences as a result of it but it is also undeniable that there have been bad consequences-the development of nuclear weapons, the toxic pollution of parts of our planet that will take hundreds and thousands of years to recover are just two examples.
The same could be said of other other great discoveries in human history-they come with good consequences but they also come with bad. For many years we took the development of plastic for granted, and it has had a positive impact on large areas of our lives but who can now deny the negative impact it also has when we look at our polluted oceans.
I think the point I am trying to make here is that with curiosity and discovery should come with responsibility. Maybe instead of thinking ‘can we do this?’ we should be thinking ‘should we do this?’
Our planet is being slowly killed by the human race-our curiosity has led to many wondrous advancements and has made many people’s lives longer and healthier and safer, but at what cost?
Now, here we are in a global pandemic, and we have a chance to pause and think. The planet is taking this chance to breathe and it is fantastic to see animals roaming where they have feared to go for generations; now is the time for a more ethical type of curiosity.
Up till now our curiosity has led us to the bring of disaster, because we haven’t stopped to ask ‘should we do this?’ We haven’t thought about the consequences. Now we should be asking ‘what should we do to save the planet?’ not ‘what could we do that would make our lives better/safer/more convenient?’
And this brings me back to Pandora and her box. Her curiosity led her to disaster, but at the bottom of that box lay the thing that we need most of all: hope. I have hope in the curiosity of human beings; I hope that it will lead to ingenuity and a way of saving our planet for all of the living things on it. I hope that our curiosity can lead us to thinking ‘what should we do to make it better?’