The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Friday, January 11, 2013

A child prodigy on the secret of the afterlife.

Computers influence us in many ways. Today, Ainan posed a question that deliberately played with that influence on our lives.

“What if when you die,” he began, with whimsy in his eyes, “you see a high score screen?”

I laughed loudly I no doubt worried our neighbours. He joined me in laughter, though his lungs couldn’t muster the same volume.

Then, I sobered up.

“In a way, you do. At least other people do.”

Ainan’s gaze tightened on me, in curiosity.

“You see when a celebrity or a rich person dies, newspapers tend to report the net worth of their estate at the moment of death. This is a kind of high score that summarizes your life achievements.”

“How do they know that?”

“There are people who track the wealth of celebrities and rich people.”

“Why do they do it?”

“Because some people find that interesting.”

He looked perplexed. Clearly, Ainan didn’t find this a meaningful datum about a person – and that perplexity was encouraging, for it bespoke of a deeper way of looking at the meaning of people and their lives.

There are other “high scores” they could focus on, but usually don’t so much. Were they married? (That is a life achievement.) How long was that marriage? Did it endure lifelong (a testament to stability)? How many children did the deceased have? How many grandchildren and great-grandchildren? How long did they live? What were their greatest achievements? What made them happiest? What would they most like to be remembered for? How many books did they write? How many did they sell? How many patents and papers did they have to their name? How about music compositions or works of art? Or articles in newspapers? How many and how important were their life works? Whom did their life touch? What effect did they have in the world, or on their family and friends? Did they make a positive contribution to life, society and the environment overall? Were they honest? Were they warm, loving and kind? Did they help others or predate upon them?

I could go on forever. There are so many more meaningful ways to assess a life than to declare a person’s net worth. Sadly, we live in a world that values wealth more than all the other indicators of a worthy life put together.

As for Ainan’s question: “What if when you die, you see a high score screen?”

I could have answered, but didn’t, until now.

“They are called biographers.”

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 6:55 PM 


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