No One was Born Great
By Omar Bihmidine
Morocco World News
Sidi Ifni, April 6, 2012
One of my friends once told me that eminent scientists and writers such as Albert Einstein and Leo Tolstoy are born great. As a result, I do not have to draw an analogy between them and other ordinary people. He said so to me soon after I told him that I also write articles and that other friends of mine publish their works in national newspapers and international websites.
He disagreed by saying that we, ordinary people, are different from these great people in that the latter are exceptions. I would say that we are surely different from them in that they have attained greatness, the thing which we haven’t yet attained ourselves. However, the fact that neither we ordinary people nor they eminent people are born great is indubitably true.
In reality, the numerous failures and excruciating experiences that these scientists underwent in their lifetime is a living proof that they were not born great. Another reason is that had they been born great, they would have surmounted all the stumbling blocks with remarkable ease.
As we look back on their lives more closely, we, however, find that it is they who achieved greatness through constant persistence, everyday struggle with life problems, and trusting their capacities. Most importantly, some of them even have more serious disabilities than ordinary people. By setting themselves that challenge, they sooner or later realized their aims. After they did so, we ordinary people attribute their success to being born great.
I am certain that many people have already heard of Helen Keller, an American outspoken lecturer and author. Before reading about her life as a young woman, one might think that she must have been born great so as to be the author of nearly 12 books, including her famous autobiography, the Story of my Life. The author in question was a victim of three handicaps: deafness, dumbness and blindness. Is the greatness we are talking about here mainly due to going deaf or blind? Certainly not.
Had it been for well-being and good health, others would have at least done like her. However, the contrary is the case. Rather, her willingness to overcome her complexes has made her what she is today, an inspiring icon.
The other day, a freshman complained to me that he had difficulty studying and writing in English. When I enquired about the why, he said that he is simply amongst those who do not have a flair for languages. At first, I did not understand what he wanted to say. But, later on, I knew that it is this false idea he had in mind which made him reluctant to experience the challenge. Also, when I was young, I had some problems learning French, but as soon as I became acquainted with English, I didn’t have any difficulty learning that language. This means that it was not because of lacking greatness that I was bad at French, but because either I wasn’t taught properly or I was not interested in the subject. If I carried on believing that most people are bad at foreign languages, I would not have learned English at all.
More importantly, thinking that some people are born great is itself discouraging and uninspiring. How can people become great if they still keep the idea that only the elite is endowed with the ability to
achieve greatness? And how are students going to become great in their lives if their teachers are instilling in them that only few people like Einstein are endowed with genius at birth? For me, this is mainly what has greatly hindered many of us from thinking creatively, inventing new things, and daring to explore the uncharted ‘lands’.
Instead, I would choose Charles Darwin as the prime example of someone whom many think he is born great. If he had really been so, why did his father mortify him many times as somebody who only cared for shooting dogs and catching rats? He was also known to have been a disgrace to his father. We can see, however, that towards the end of his life, he had turned himself into one of the most revolutionary naturalist scientists of all time. Is it because he was born great that he had become what he was at the time? I do not think so. The fact that, like many others, he made of himself great on his own late in life is living proof that no one was born great.