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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Are Great Men That Important?

No man is an island indeed. Thus, those great men couldn't have succeeded without help, right? Or do you think otherwise? Do you think they could still have succeeded even alone? Today we mark much of our technological advances by the inventors. Think of Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Would computing be different without them or, as Jared Diamond supposes, were they just in the right place at the right time? Are “great men” really not that important? Why or why not. Choose 1 or 2 great men (or women) to use as examples to explain your answer.

Are “great men” really that important? Before this question can be answered, notice that the adjective “great” (for the men) needs to be defined first. Often, this phrase (great men) is viewed by the majority as men (but does not exclude women) of achievements, power, money, fame or a combination of the mentioned factors. This means that Napoleon the Great and Einstein are both great men as they “were” both great in a thing or many things, powerful and full of achievements during their existence. It also makes Bill Gates and Joanne Kathleen Rowling great man and woman for their power, achievements, wealth and fame, among others.

It might be true that the above mentioned personalities were at the right place at the right time but the majority of their efforts and factors causing their “greatness” still came from their side and contribution. As one great man of war and history and as a fabulous author, this paper focuses on Bonaparte and Rowling, respectively, as persons who did not simply put themselves in the right place at the right time to get what they are worth for and what they deserve but as persons who made their way through their respective titles and desert. Bonaparte was even considered as "the most splendid genius that has appeared on earth." (Andrews, 1939, p. 3: Acton, 1887, p. 603) It should be noted that Napoleon the Great did not sit to achieve his title. From his childhood, he seemed to have been an ambitious boy already, as he said it himself.

I was self-willed and obstinate, nothing awed me, nothing disconcerted me. I was quarrelsome, exasperating; I feared no one. I gave a blow here and scratch there. Everyone was afraid of me. My brother Joseph was the one with whom I had the most to do; he was beaten, bitten, scolded; I complained that he did not get over it soon enough." (Fournier, 1903, p. 5: Napoleon Bonaparte)
Thus, with a little bit of ambition, perseverance and hard-work, Napoleon could not have been as Great as he was and he is (still).

On the other hand, Harry Potter’s author is another person to be looked up at. Her being a woman did not stop her from succeeding or attaining the status of being "the most successful novelist in the world" (Stephen, 1999, p. 24) in 1999.

Americans love rag –to-riches myths, of course. Rowling is not even Scottish, but a middle-class Chipping Sodbury girl who read French at Exeter University before working for Amnesty International; after her marriage to Portuguese journalist ended she stayed with her sister in Edinburgh, went on social security and started the first Potter book. To the average middle-class American, hearing how somebody goes from “welfare” to overnight millions is vindication of the notion that hard work is all that is required for success… (Stephen, 1999, p24)

Rowling made hard works to succeed and did not wait fame to strike her. She had her own failures and frustrations as a regular person, too far from being great, yet, she never stopped to be inspired to continue her Harry Potter novels. Clearly, and again, it is not only being at the right place at the right time to succeed and be “great”. A big deal of effort and perseverance as well as discipline and unmarred motivation must be present. Thus, great men are important, not because of the fact that they are great, famous, powerful and wealthy but because of the inspirations and lessons they give to common individuals on how they have achieved their greatness.

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