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Why I Will Never Be Great

June 27, 2013

As I write this Nelson Mandela lies critically ill.

Since I heard, I have spent some time thinking of him but I have spent more time thinking of me. That is why I will never be a great person – as he is.

Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Teresa, Dalai Lama, Private English Tutor – spot the odd one out? Not difficult is it?

Why is it that some leave deeper footprints in the sands of time than others? Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em. (Malvolio, Twelfth Night). I fit into none of these areas of greatness. I am an ever so ‘umble (with a nod and a wink to Uriah Heep) private tutor, a would-be author and someone who once spent six weeks milking cows – and hated it!

So why is it that tens of millions of people around the world are acutely aware of Mr Mandela’s past achievements and his present predicament? Why is it that Ghandi and Mother Theresa are revered, worldwide, years after their deaths? Why is it that the Dalai Lama, a gentle, peaceful 77 year old man earns the respect of the whole world – except China!

So what is it that makes someone a great human? Looking at myself, the best I can say is that I am ‘good’. I go about my daily life, doing what I do and trying not to impinge on others. I try to live by the rules of my society and hurt no one. For the most part, I guess that makes me ‘good’. That is where I depart from Nelson Mandela and the three aforementioned ‘great people’. I will never be great, just as 99.9% of the world’s population will never join their esteemed company.

At a particular time, in a particular place, all four of them separated from the teeming masses of humanity to which we are all born and strode down the road lesser taken. Something, somewhere, deep inside, propelled them onto a journey that I will never be able to comprehend. A journey over the sands of time that will leave footprints the likes of which the rest of us can only marvel at.

Would I have faced the baton-wielding British military in nothing but sackcloth and sandals, advocating peaceful resistance? Probably not.

Would I give Wholehearted and Free service to the poorest of the poor, as Mother Teresa advocatedProbably not.

Would I travel the world advocating peace and forgiveness to all humanity if I was in the Dalai Lama’s traditional songba shoes? Probably not.

Would I have declared peace and reconciliation to those that had incarcerated me for 27 years on Robben Island? Probably not.

Greatness is a gift that very few receive. Of those few, most will fall by the wayside to leave the odd one or two who are able to use that gift selflessly and totally for the benefit of others.

As I sit here writing this, I know I not one of the select few. I write this blog post for me. I give private tuition for money – for me. I am writing a novel, for me. I want it to sell millions so that I can make millions – for me.

When the day of reckoning raises its ugly head, just how deep will my footprints in the sand be?

Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Teresa, Dalai Lama – Some are born great, some achieve greatness. . . .

English: Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gaute...

English: Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gauteng, on 13 May 1998 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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18 Comments
  1. Some of us lesser mortals achieve greatness without gaining the fame that such revered icons possess. A random act of kindness to one less fortunate than ourselves is certainly worthy of a footprint or two.

    Don’t be so hard on yourself…we may not leave a lot of footsteps, but if all mankind just left one footprint each, the top four would smile and say “Job well done!”

    Just a note…put that widget asking for votes at the top of your page. Not everyone scrolls past the “Leave a comment section.” You’re site is definitely worth a vote and I’m toddling off to do so now.

    • Hey Cranky, thanks for the positive input.

      I wasn’t particularly bemoaning my lack of greatness, more thinking of the great man coming to the end of his life. Perhaps I didn’t quite express it as I should have.

      I’ve thought of that counter widget but it’s something I just bypass on sites. It’s a bit like the ‘Like’ click or the Facebook ‘Like’. Too easy to click. I value comments because people have have put time and effort into them.

      Glad you like my site because you’re my third favourite grandma. 🙂

      • I clicked on the links but got nowhere fast! It could be my server, but you might want to check those links and make sure they still work. Let me know so I can vote for you.

      • I don’t have any voting links. Only the ‘Like’ button and the comments box. Not sure what you are seeing.

  2. I love this. I think most of us have, at one time or another, thought about ourselves in comparison to those few great ones that are making or have left a huge impression on humanity as a whole. I do believe that, somehow, they are “chosen”, yet I can’t rationalize that belief, its truth resides deep in the infinite wonders of the universe. I believe those that have been “chosen” are here to make us answer to ourselves, those very same questions you asked yourself. Not to be critical or to be judged but perhaps just to be aware and to, in our own small ways, strive to be better – to give a little more. I do believe that even very small kindnesses make a big difference. Think of those that will read your post today and be inspired by it. You can count me as one of them. With your permission, I’d like to reblog this later today or tomorrow.

  3. I often wonder what it is that drives people to do great things. I, too, consider myself “good” (for the most part at least, although there are days when I do not consider myself “good” at all). Perhaps it’s in perspective. Nelson Mandela’s journey has touched so many lives, yet each one of us, every day, touches the life of someone else. While our journey may not be recognized by the world and we may never know the difference that it made, we can rest assured that it did make a difference to someone, somewhere.

  4. Yes, I think Nelson Mandela is the greatest man alive today — thanks for your wonderful sentiments. I have often wondered at his lack of bitterness — instead, he simply spoke the truth. No, we may not be considered ‘great’ but I know that those of us who do try to be ‘good’ add to the whole of humanity. 😉

  5. I have just passed on the ‘Loyal Reader’ award to you.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mother Teresa’s “Life is an Opportunity” quote | Melanie's Life Online
  2. ‘As Rare as Rocking Horse Turds’, bemoans Private Tutor. | experiencedtutors

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