What is your Holy Grail? That is, what have you been searching for, for a very long time and not yet found? It seems that the “original” Holy Grail; the cup that Christ used at the last supper is not the only Holy Grail. Each discipline has its own list of Holy Grails. For example, physics has a long list, one of which is a grand unified theory of everything. Edward O. Wilson, an evolutionary biologist wrote a book called Consilience. He believes that all knowledge is intrinsically unified, and that behind disciplines as diverse as physics and biology, anthropology, and the arts, lie a small number of natural laws, whose interlocking and interconnectedness is called consilience. He believes the Holy Grail for all the natural sciences is finding those natural laws.
In the biomedical field one of the Holy Grails is probably a cure for cancer. In computer science it may be artificial intelligence. One of my interests is electric cars which rely on batteries. The Holy Grail for me in this field would be the ultimate battery for renewable energy sources. In the field of philosophy or religion perhaps the Holy Grail could be expressed as, “What is the meaning of life?” or “how to be happy.”
SETI, the South Eastman Transition Initiative, consists of a small group of individuals in south eastern Manitoba who are interested in living sustainably. I asked myself, “Why do I belong to this group and why are we pursuing sustainable living?” One of the answers is that we believe that the wonderful world in which we live and have our being is being harmed. If it is being harmed, then the beautiful existence that we now enjoy is likely to come to an end, if not for us, then for our children and our grandchildren. We do not want that to happen. So, the Holy Grail for SETI might be to find and describe a way of living that, as a minimum, does little or no harm to our earth and at best improves the ability of the earth to provide a bountiful, sustainable living for us.
In the legend of King Arthur, the knights continually sought the Holy Grail. It is our obligation to search for our own Holy Grail. The process is a lifelong process and success is staying on course in our search, not necessarily the ultimate finding of it. It is our obligation to transfer to the next generation the enthusiasm of the search.
One of the reasons we belong to a group is that we have a common interest and the group can aid our search. Many minds make for a more purposeful and successful search. I encourage you in this new year to think about, “What is your Holy Grail?” and then to pursue it relentlessly.