Why do we have people who are so eager to appear smart rather than concentrate on being actually smart. Samuel Langhorne Clemens remains one of my all time favorite people not the least because he was always shrouded in mystery, well sort of, not even because he was versatile and sauntered across the Arts to the Sciences. Of all the crazy Samuel stories I have read, it is always the ones where he looked like a homeless man or the ones where he was unrecognizable that strike deep cords within. Well, just in case you were wondering who the heck Samuel was, you probably know him better as Mark Twain.
How can you be as smart as Mark Twain and make no effort to disturb the world with all that brilliance. How do you get to write brilliant novels like Adventures of Tom Sawyer and not even think of adding your name? Who thinks of hiding their identity when on the cusp of something great? It’s so difficult to align with this paradigm especially in an age where we are all so crazy about our names.
Meet the best among the lot and they tell you how they are not interested in money but rather in making a good name for themselves. The irony is that, for most people like that who make it a point to show that they chose good name over silver, they immediately contradict themselves by quoting the phrase from the Holy Book – a good name is worth more than riches.
I’ve been thinking about Mark Twain lately, of course he was sometimes erratic, but that is not my focus. My focus is rather on the prevailing culture of his dispensation where most people cared less about their name, people like Curie and Nobel went against common sense and rationale while pursuing success, you would think that their pursuit of success was for their own gain, but no way, they died, worse still is that they knew they were at the risk of death. These guys didn’t care about themselves, they were more focused on contributing their quota to humanity before leaving.
It was never about them, unlike this modern generation where “making a name” is about us. What really changed? All through history, the examples staring at us all did things differently, the people who do things the way we go about them now never ended well; people like Hitler, Stalin, Napoleon, all had a woeful end. These people cared too much about themselves and how much power they could wield. It’s shocking that the people we gloat about in history never wanted the fame nor relevance, they just wanted to contribute their quota and leave.
William II Gates didn’t think of becoming the richest man in the world when he started Microsoft, the young man just wanted people to have access to this wonderful thing that he had discovered, Mandela didn’t even want to be President when he left his law firm to fight the Apartheid rule, I could go on and on. These are the people history present to us, why are we not treading in their footsteps?
We run the risk of leading a generation with no intent for the larger society, a selfish and aloof generation. This world will become less beautiful then. The more people focus on actually getting the substance and not concerned about how the rest of the world viewed them, we would actually become better humans. In this social media age, it’s become increasingly difficult to keep your acts to yourself, you feel abnormal if you don’t share your sumptuous food with the internet, you feel like the world is flying beyond your reach if you stay away from social media so you become lost in the conscious of social media that you fall adrift of the certainty of your reality staring you in the face.
It is only when we begin to focus on the collective rather than the individual, that people like Samuel Clemens outlive their time on earth. Or Mark Twain, as you know him.