Monday, March 4, 2013

What Is Greatness?

Monday, March 4, 2013 8:49 AM
What Is Greatness?

Almost everyone wants to be great in one respect or another. Some want to be great and successful, some want to be great people, some just want to be the greatest they can be at whatever they choose. But what really makes someone great? Lets take a look at a few great people and see why they were considered great.

Albert Einstein is one of the greatest scientists and mathematicians to ever live. He developed the theory of relativity, helped develop the atomic bomb, and helped give birth to modern atomic energy systems just to name a few of his many accomplishments. 

In his younger days however, young Albert wasn't so respected. The children at his school would tease and make fun of him relentlessly. The people in his town talked behind his back and called him slow and stupid. His teachers told him that he would most likely never amount to anything. Even his parents would tell him he was slow and he would probably end up very poor and with a job that brought him no respect.

His Majesty Haile Selassie I seems like he would have no struggles on his path to greatness. Born into the lap of luxury he was a prince at birth and later became king of the greatest African nation at the time, Ethiopia. 

But in his younger days his father was slowly preparing him for the struggles that would face him when he would eventually ascend the throne. 

When he became king, the world was entering into turmoil on a scale unknown before. WWII would engulf the world a mere 10 years or so after Selassie was crowned king. Now ruler of a nation that can trace its unbroken history to the Queen of Sheba and even further back, it was his responsibility to carry on the lineage his great ancestors had left him. Quite a daunting task. Selassie would face many challenges while he was on the throne, including defending the country against the axis forces of Mussolini; and with help from the Sicilian people helped hold Mussolini back before he could fully destroy Ethiopia. Selassie also stood strong in the face of exile, and pressure from the world after WWII to accept their form of government and beliefs which Selassie knew in his heart were wrong.

No that's not John Dillinger or Clyde Barrow, it's Winston Churchill. The famed British leader and personal friend of my great grandmother, Churchill is another who seemingly was born into luxury and had his road to greatness paved in gold. But as young Winston would soon discover, it's not how your born that determines your greatness, its the choices you make during your life. 

Winston's life was full of excitement as a youngster, his family treated him kindly and with respect, but when he started to make his way in the world he soon realized no family name could spare him from life's troubles.

Churchill's dream of holding public office mainly started when he was elected as "First Lord of the Admiralty". However critics and the press both soon started to tear him apart. Mocked almost relentlessly for his "severe and agonising" speech impediments, Churchill would sometimes take 3 or 4 times as long as his contemporaries to make a speech. He also faced exile and extremely strong opposition from opposing sides of thought in Parliament and even his own supporters. But he lead Great Britain through WWII and is known as one the greatest world leaders to ever live.

Eugene Orowitz. Now I'm sure your thinking "Wrong name, that's Michael Landon". But Michael Landon wasn't born Michael Landon. You know him as the handsome actor, one of the most beloved actors in all of film history, but his life started out a little differently. 

He had a problem wetting the bed, and just to make matters worse, every time he would wet the bed his mother painted a large bed sheet with the words "EUGENE OROWITZ WET THE BED AGAIN" and hung it out the window for the entire city block to see. I can only imagine how crushing it would be to have your own mother treat you in such a horrible way. Mocked and ridiculed by everyone that knew him, including friends, neighbors, teachers, family, and random passers by, Eugene would race home as fast as he could every day after school to take the bed sheet down from outside the window. Later he would use his speed he gained from this to become a well respected track star and the confidence he gained during that eventually helped him become the beloved actor Michael Landon.

So, the original question is, what is greatness? It's not a special gift someone has and you don't, it's not what family you were born into, it's not having never to go through any hardships (in fact its the struggle that brings out the greatness, intense heat and pressure is the only way for coal to become diamonds) and it's not being smarter or more well respected than anyone else. Greatness is picturing yourself as great, and letting nothing that comes against you stop you. People and circumstances will arise before you to destroy you, it's the choices you make about these situations that determine if you become great or not. I think Winston Churchill said it best by saying  "Never, never, never, never give up".

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