Physicist Albert Einstein is widely regarded as one of the smartest people to ever live.
Born in Germany in 1879, Einstein held citizenship in several countries during his lifetime, including the United States. Not surprisingly, he left behind a bunch of amazing quotes when he died in New Jersey in 1955.
Here’s a look at a handful that have no less relevance today than when they were uttered – or even more.
•Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
I started with this one because it’s by far my favorite.
Misguided, unbridled trust in governments and leadership has led large groups of people into perilous circumstances many times during the course of history. I believe that’s happening again right now, and that there are far too many folks who are satisfied with following weird orders and accepting ridiculous proclamations and declarations without questioning their legitimacy or validity.
Time will tell (probably sooner than later) whether or not we’re all just lemmings headed for the cliff.
•The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.
This goes hand-in-hand with the above.
Whether due to fear, ignorance or good old apathy, too many people are unwilling to call out the Emperor for not wearing any clothes.
•Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.
If only people did learn from yesterday. But since they don’t, history time and again repeats itself, and hope for tomorrow is tarnished by unforeseen struggles and suffering.
And once again, Einstein is urging people to take notice of their surroundings, analyze them and question what doesn’t fit or seem right.
•Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.
I don’t think many people understand this, and few abide by it.
For evidence, just take a drive on a city freeway or take a walk in a crowded market.
•Information is not knowledge.
Wow, is that ever true.
Just check out the nightly news on TV or read what’s posted on a mainstream news source’s website. Sure, it’s informative, but mostly about nonsensical ideals or agendas, and it rarely provides any actual knowledge of what’s real or factual.
•Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.
In my view, this is a real problem these days.
Anyone whose opinion doesn’t match up with that which is trendy, or who wonders about the legitimacy of information or questions authority is met with labeling and name-calling by others whose minds aren’t strong enough to handle any form of challenge. Of course, the mediocre-minded don’t recognize their own shortcomings, but have no trouble with highlighting perceived (and even fabricated) deficiencies of their great-spirited opposition.
•The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive.
Unfortunately, what a person receives more or less measures their value nowadays.
You see that in all corners of society; being a behind-the-scenes “giver” isn’t cool, but being an in-your-face taker has more or less become the new version of the American Dream.
What’s more, even many of the supposed givers are actually operating under that guise while seeking something in return (like adherence to a belief or compliance with an objective).
•Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.
I have no problem being in complete agreement with this statement, and have both spoken and written about it at length.
And I feel like we’ll all be dealt a strong reminder of its truth if we allow Artificial Intelligence to continue being touted as a good thing that’s going to “improve” everyone’s lives and if digital “advancement” is allowed to sneak up and take away our very freedom.
Anyway, keep in mind that if you want to argue with any of these concepts, you’re doing so with a man possessing a bit of smarts. Strike that; you’re going up against the best.
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. His columns are posted online at www.houstonherald.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.