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Lewis & Quark


Great Things

     Everyone likes to think they're special. That they're some unique combination of history, personality, and cognitive ability. But the truth is, those are just ticked boxes that give us insight into how each person is hardwired. Study personalities long enough and you get to know them like the back of your hand. So the question is: what makes someone special?
     Special is not different. I am different from everyone else in the universe, but that doesn't set me apart in any way but that I'm not them. Special implies skill. Superiority, put harshly. Plato made a point in his Republic that everything has a purpose, and when that purpose is fulfilled, it is in the state of being good. Special is a good. It is a good different, simply put. 
     Humans are the sole rational animal. In G. K. Chesterton's Everlasting Man, he makes an interesting point. Birds build nests. Every year, they construct, through their intellect, a nest to shelter themselves. Now in time past, humans have built houses out of sticks. But we have moved forward to stone, metal and glass. Birds still make nests. Chesterton points out that humans advance over time, making things better. No matter how many tools chimpanzees use, they have been using rocks and sticks for years, and will continue to. We as humans can go forward. We are not animals, and are apart from them. Humans are separate from each other in ability as well. The next question is: what sets one person apart from another and why?
     What makes me myself, what makes anyone who they are, is their mind. There are traits of humanity and general principles of actions and thoughts that apply to everyone. We are all different, however. Some of us like calculus. Some of us dabble in foreign languages. But when the base elements of humanity are considered, we all have a few things in common. Those things are collectively referred to as nature--who we are because of what we are. Our nature has a few components: a natural law, a desire element that performs independently on some occasions, and the will.
     Our natural law is moral, and operates as so. When you committed an act as as a child to do something that your parents told you not to do, you knew it was wrong because of the natural law implanted in you. The same natural law is the reason why, century after century, no culture has promoted murder by anger or adultery. 
     Our desire component is more of a lack of decision as opposed to the will, which is decision. It can act for good things, like hunger or sleep, but also for bad. That is the central thing at the heart of human nature. Natural springs do not, cannot, produce saltwater and freshwater. They produce one. The same is true of trees. They produce one type of leaf. However, humans produce good things in of themselves and bad things in of themselves. We are not natural in a true sense.
     Where the desire component is lack of decision, the will is pure decision. The will is the most complex and diverse portion of being a human. The will is really truly, what drives human actions. We decide what to do based on factors that please us or achieve desired ends. But the interesting thing is that if you go to your neighbors and ask them if they want good or bad in the coming days, months, years, etc., there is a 100% chance all of them will say they desire good. But a "good" for them may not be a good for someone else.
     Let us say you possess a gun. You go to the nearest Taco Bell and hold up the store in order to acquire the tacos they are serving. That is clearly, clearly, wrong. Violence, and the threat of murder, are immoral actions. Yet they are a good for you, because you seize the taco, eat it, and possess pleasure by it. When you leave the store, however, you will be arrested. That is one of the primary reasons people abstain from acting on vice. It costs in the end.
     We will to do two types of things: moral things and immoral things. The same distinction applies to things we will not to do, yet do. As I said before, humans are not natural. If we were, we would be only one side: completely just or completely unjust. We would not attain at times to a more moral setting in our actions, and at others a more primal. We have no control in the matter. These principles of conscience, desire component, and will apply to how we think as well. That is the true hub of our intelligence. At the nucleus, our intelligence can apply to manifold things. Who would not grant that Albert Einstein was a genius? Or Nikola Tesla? That Abraham Lincoln was a genius? That Thomas Aquinas possessed great intelligence? 
     But what made those people the way they were? What made them special? They had a conscience, a desire component, and a will. They all sinned. They did not necessarily go where no one had gone before. Aquinas took much from Aristotle and Augustine, neither of which were sinless, and both of which were human, like us. What made them special? All of them, through the opportunities granted them, changed something.  All of them took an idea, or a problem, and solved it. All of them, either through words or a formula, looked at a problem and said "this cannot continue the way it is." 
      Albert Einstein invented the theory of general relativity (E=mcand fundamentally changed the way we look at the universe. Nikola Tesla refined the way we use power and electricity. Abraham Lincoln led people and healed the United States. Thomas Aquinas wrote five books that summarized theology for generations. The natural response, if not a good one as well, is to be like them. Can we?
     Did you know that only four percent of people think that they have a below average intelligence? Four percent. And are you also aware that tests show there is a direct correlation between lack of intelligence and assuredness? When you hear someone say they know something "for a fact"--picture them with a sign around their neck that says "I'm an idiot." But's something to think about. 
     Let's say, hypothetically, that there was this person who tested out in the top five percent on all the standard IQ exams. Across the board. Consistently. Now you might argue that this person is, clearly, a very smart, very special person. But I'd be willing to bet all the money in my pocket against all the tacos in yours that this person would tell you you're wrong. Do you know why? Because this person would know that being in the top five percent means that there are 250 million people at least as smart as he is. Smart people are not alone.
      Possessing intelligence is not enough, however. Application of that intelligence is what matters. There are many people in deeply impoverished places like central Africa right now whose talent will never be applied because they lack the opportunity to use it. God has ordained that. Not to say that intelligence is useless unless obviously applied, though. Jules Verne was not a mathematician, yet his works elevated science and math and inspired others to pursue the unknown. Our special people aforementioned were different. Their skills were something no one else had at a time when similar people could not exercise the same skills.
      They were special because they were...gifted. And are we not? Are we the inferiors? The crux of the problem is that we do not all have the same gifts. Yes, our decision factors are more or less the same. Our personality can play a part--though if one is truly intelligent, it only matters as far as how we treat the people around us. If we are smart and kind, we can go far. If we are not both, then people will discount that gifted person based on personality--we are to love our neighbors, no matter our intelligence.
      The big thing that comes into play which can change the life of any person is the great counterpart to nature--the term used in the vicinity of the other quite often--nurture. "Nurture" is not Freudian psychology--all your problems are your mother's fault. We are a product of our enviroment, but not all--nature is at least 51% or more of it. A great case in point for this is Woodrow Wilson. After struggling with dyslexia and only learning the alphabet when he was 12, he graduated and became a college professor, and then President of the United States. He overcame his limitations, and became great.
     So here we are. I am a futurist. I believe that a better tomorrow will happen--that it is necessary for humanity. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the great Russian rocket scientist, said that Earth is the cradle of mankind, and that one day, we must leave the cradle. Humanity can advance. We must. And right now, the 50th President of the United States might be reading this. The next Thomas Edison. The next Shakespeare. When it's all over, we're the future. We are the people who will lead, build, and think in tomorrow. Let us do what we do in light of that. Let us apply ourselves to our learning because we all can do something. None of us are incapable. Every member of society counts, like parts of a colossal body, as Plato thought. We are thinkers, coders, speakers, problem-solvers, mathematicians. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt: "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."  
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