The 'Unified Field'

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By Robert L. Domoguen

Mountain Light

Monday, August 18, 2014


ALBERT Einstein was certainly the most "influential physicist of the 20th century." His popularity spans several theories that he developed, the applications of which shaped much of the world today.

Students of the arts and sciences, leaders who would ponder the future of their communities, would do well to read Einstein's biography, a German born physicist who developed the theory of relativity.

Alongside the general theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (alongside quantum mechanics); Einstein is also well known for his mass-energy equivalence formula E = mc2 (which has been dubbed "the world's most famous equation"). In 1921, he received the Nobel Prize in Physics" for his services to theoretical physics and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect", which was pivotal in establishing quantum theory.

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Beyond his accomplishments in his field of pursuit, he exemplified for me true leadership applicable to well meaning pursuits for the betterment of the lot of humanity.

Leaders ponder and develop laws that would anchor and guide actions. In his field, Einstein undertook lonely journeys of the mind for days and years on end, "thought experiments," he calls them. These "thought experiments," he would deliberate with his assistants and on occasions share with his peers. Among his peers, only one or two would share his dogged determination to succeed. Many considered his works futile, not until he himself would reach his quest - drafts ready on the study table.

About his thought experiments, he is constantly lost in thought "sitting around a bare table on the porch of a cottage," at the end of the road.

That makes Einstein, quite a loner but his biographical sketches reveal something - a warm side to his quest and gentle being. As a senior scientist, he would deliberate his theories, developed laws in his field of study with his assistants and others interested. Being engaged in community development work these past years, I find such a leadership style assures continuity of thought, memories, best practices.

Einstein's final quest, probably the longest one that he wrestled with was the "unified field theory." In deliberating the theory with his assistants, he would report in the morning optimistic that he has finally found that which would make theory serve its purpose. At the end of every session, they would conclude the reverse. Instead of being discouraged, he would encourage himself and his assistant with an optimistic remark: "At least we learned something."

It was Einstein's hope that a unified field theory would unite the various forces of nature in a way that would explain away what seemed like the uncertainties and probabilities of quantum mechanics... the vast majority of the physics priesthood considered this quest to be quixotic... (American Sketches by Walter Isaacson).

The quest for the unified theory, in the opinion of an admirer, marked the main characteristic of Einstein's genius - "his tenacity in sticking to a problem for years, in returning to the problem again and again."

In thinking about Einstein, I would ponder too about our leaders today, the spirit of their service and reign of power. I see a lot that do not fit into the equation of what leaders should be. Instead of connectivity, continuity, a build-up of good knowledge - progress as some would say, the reverse is true. The values of leadership today build on personalities, self-interest and power, mainly its preservation and expansion among the ruling elite. I would rather that leadership and power builds on laws and policies of governance that strengthen community and nation, shared responsibilities and good citizenship - common benefits in the quest for progress.

In the Cordillera, it is understandable why the shift in governance, beginning with the region's administrative status has brought about a focus on government investment for our mountainous region once divided between regions 1 and 2. It is a good policy that engages local citizens, who knew and understand the conditions of the place, ultimately managing their resources, planning and implementing development as they see fit, not the kind of development evolved outside and suitable only for the majority of lowland folks, no matter how it is argued to be inclusive.

The vision of the early movers for autonomy was good. It brought about a Philippine Constitution that specifically cited the need for an autonomous structure for the Cordillera. It was an idea that must move on through the years, fed and growing each year with more good ideas. It does not stop with the administrative status, or as a mere statement or part of the Constitution. It needs theories becoming good laws of governance, if it must survive. That is basically, a function of leadership and policy makers to advance not to bring back the quest to where it began, or kill it on its tracks. It needs the grit and determination of great leaders to make it happen, to succeed.

Leaders are leaders because of great ideas. In the last 27 years of our administrative status, ideas towards an autonomy status eluded us. It is where we lost the fight, why we continue to loss the fight. It comes as a dictate to tell our folks, "it is now or never" on autonomy without great ideas that will win their minds and hearts to it.

Leaders nourish ideas that benefits humanity, not self-serving interests. That is where the grit comes from, why they engage the young as Einstein did, and why he was willing to battle the unknown alone. Among his wards, Einstein Climber of cosmic Alps confessed that he would rather soldier alone in his futile quests to save their future but that he was always happy to share his thoughts with them.

We need community leaders who would soldier the heights of community living and mountain survival in this times of colossal changes, with great ideas fought and won in "thought experiments" alone in the dark nights of their souls, or with others given to pondering the future survival of their people. Community, after all is community and interdependence with others. The strong and current alternative ideas now floated about for mountain living is that we are better doing things on our own, minus our right to self-determination as highland folks together. The future for us and our children is determined and managed for us by others who do not understand our mountains, or presume they do but lacking in grit and determination to survive in its harsh terrains except to present themselves as our masters. When we have finally come to that conclusion, we may have surrendered our lives or that we are borne to that mother of evil and cowardice that keep telling each of us individually and as tribal folks, that we are different and continue to hate each other, one way or the other - plain losers.

We miss the point. When the great nation of Vietnam was divided between the communists and a corrupt democratic regime, South Vietnam depended on the Americans to win the war for their cause. The Americans thought they could handily win the war with the might of technological bombs and weaponry. South Vietnam and America lost that war. A war fought with ideas that won for the communists, the hearts and minds of the great majority of Vietnamese, even willing I presume to offer all in the midst of falling firebombs with a song, "We shall overcome someday." I write that actually, in agreement with America's military analysts on why they lost the Vietnam War. They underestimated the power of ideas. In the same breath, I say we are losing the quest for autonomy with a lack of imagination and ideas to win our people to it. Leaders and all, even put an agency to task, to do that work alone.

If we lost this cause, did we lie to the nation when we asked for it? Do we as a people have grit and commitment to a determined cause? Or are our agreements be relied on with some credibility still intact, without a unified development and investment field to speak of?

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 19, 2014.

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