FROM MY CORNER
When lately I told a reader I’d been reading Albert Einstein’s biography, he huffily responded, “Well, you’re sure no genius.” I am the first to agree with him – on the surface. But, upon reflection, I’ve developed one definition of Genius which I too hopefully may learn to fit into. Perhaps you can also.
Einstein was by all accounts usually quite a pleasant personality. Got along with people, even when disagreeing with them, for instance. His “Genius” I propose was largely the result of his generally gentle approach to all of life. As a scientist, he took it one step at a time.
Which means he harbored no innate prejudices. Rather, he carefully inspected each situation and person he encountered with a curious mind. He always sought to find every idea’s and every person’s unique character. His gentleness, I believe, gave him the tool he needed to calmly pursue always that most difficult concept: Truth.
I think this may produce in every person a grain of Genius. If we face each idea and person we abruptly come upon with the idea in mind that there must be something new we can learn here, surprisingly that new discovery appears. So gentleness becomes part of real Genius – and attainable by us all.
A couple of quotes from Albert may serve us well in present circumstances. Once early in his life he commented in a talk he was giving that, “Striving for social justice is the most valuable thing to do in life.” He commented often about this in his life, and many reported he lived it by his behavior. He both talked the talk and walked the walk.
Hypocrisy was no part of his life. In this, he shared the trait I also discovered while earlier reading the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi. Their gentleness provided them the vital tool they needed not to rush to judgment about any new idea or person, but rather to always seek the new truth they believed surely existed in their current encounter.
Gandhi’s book was subtitled, “My Experiments with Truth.” That was how aware he was of how he attempted to live his personal life. No light undertaking, I believe you’ll agree. That level of self-awareness takes some hard concentration and focus.
Einstein was not fond of capitalism because it did not focus on the over-all survival of all people, the species of man, but rather on the personal gain of individuals. Ms. Ayn Rand, the author who proposed the opposite: a philosophy based on selfishness, would not have been Albert’s bosom buddy.
He had a charmingly optimistic outlook about America. His biographer, Walter Isaacson, reports that he felt: “America . . . can be swept by waves of what may seem, to outsiders, to be dangerous political passions but are, instead, passing sentiments that are absorbed by its democracy and righted by its constitutional gyroscope . . . but somehow (Americans) manage to return to normality. Everything – even lunacy – is mass produced here. But everything goes out of fashion very quickly.”
Apt thoughts for the digital age and the age of Trump, I would say. Whether you politically tend either to the Left or the Right, I suggest you experimentally try thinking about the above quote with a gentle mind.
Perhaps it will help make time pass more comfortably for you.