Nowadays we often talk about the arrogance of people in various fields. Arrogant scientists do things simply because they can do them, without thinking about the consequences. Arrogant priests are almost celebrating that they quit the church and “moved on”. Arrogant managers in companies behave unacceptably without any empathy for colleagues or customers. And the list goes on and on for ever. Many reasons lie behind such behavior. But few are the important ones. One being the most basic of them all: The ease with which we inherit power and knowledge. An ease that is increasing as the years go by and we ‘progress’.
You see the scientist today does not toil for what he knows. He just reads everything that his predecessors have discovered and by standing on the shoulders of giants he makes his own discoveries. By finishing university he already knows everything that the leading scientists of the last century knew without even sweating. With such power he feels intoxicated. He gets excited. He can go further! To create something else! It does not matter what! He does not even think about whether or not he should respect some limits because he did not go through years of difficulties to get where he is; time that would increase his humility at the same time his strength also increased. His knowledge increased exponentially along with his arrogance. Similarly, the priest today does not bother to be a ‘saint’ or does not spend years of pain and efforts to reach at new spiritual heights that will allow him to humbly guide others. He reads everything that the Fathers of the Church have written and in a few years he is ready to play his role, spreading the wise thoughts of old sages to his followers. The greatest difficuly he ever experienced? The exams at his school. And if he gets bored, well, he just leaves. But the holy people of the past went through hell to become what they became. For them it was not a matter of reading at a university but a matter of living. For them, it was a matter of life or death. And how can you give up your life or deny your death?
The examples do not stop here. As said above, we could go on listing cases of modern people following the easy path, accepting inherited power and being arrogant because of that. The right president of a company has gone through a lot until he reached his position. Years spent in low positions, years of effort and difficulties. He won his place. For such a president it does not even make sense to ask him if he is thinking of leaving and going elsewhere. Such president makes a great president. But to-day, people are just selected to be CEOs. In the same way you select to buy a gun from the super market. And with that gun you can kill. But the karate teacher who has learned after years of practice to kill with his hands, he never does kill anyone. Because the years that he spent to acquire this power made him the right person to use it wisely.
Alchemists had a reason for requiring years of silent apprenticeship to reach a minimum so as to begin doing your own experiments. Pythagoras the same. Be afraid of the easy way. It leads to monsters. Learn what you learn on your own. And only when you work hard enough to make it your own, dare to talk to others about it.
Discard your inheritance.
And shut up.
(Inspiration for the post from Ian Malcolm’s speech in Jurrasic Park novel, written by Michael Crichton)