A Call for Greatness

Mary - Salt Lake City, Utah
Entered on December 2, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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In the play, Twelfth Night, Malvalio recites one of Shakespeare’s most famous lines, “but be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.” I marvel at these words and often wonder if Shakespeare had any inclination that centuries after his death, he would continue to be distinguished as one of the greatest writers of all time. This quote has personal significance and invokes a powerful sense of purpose in my life. While perhaps not all of us are born to be the Shakespeare’s or Einstein’s of our day, the quote speaks for every human being, those born with extraordinary talent, and those who have yet to find it. It is my belief that our greatness is not measured by origin, but rather how we choose to cultivate and engage it. We as human beings are extraordinary creatures, and it is our purpose and responsibility to use our existence to do great things for the betterment of humanity. I believe this value is quickly diminishing in our society; and that we as individuals must restructure our lives to enable the extraordinary.

I often find myself troubled by the lack of purpose that seems so ubiquitous in our society. I feel as though the general population manages itself through the greatness of the few. While we are blessed to live in an age of astounding technological advances, I believe that we too often let these innovations replace our own abilities to conceive new ideas and formulate thoughtful opinions about the world around us. These adaptations have given society more opportunities and resources to not only become connected to the world, but to instigate new ideas and constitute change. Unfortunately, my observations conclude that the general public is more distracted by the personal gains of such advances; whereas the population would be served better by capitalizing on technology as an instrument for achieving greatness. The world is inundated with noise, from video games to i-pods, commercializing a commodious lifestyle, and enabling a lack of personal motivation. We need to take off the headphones if we are to ever hear our call for greatness.

I believe there is no substitution for the extraordinary; and that our society has accepted mediocrity to take its place. The deficiencies in education, the staggering absence of voting constituents and an overall sense of complacency is threatening to destroy the very fabric of what constitutes who we are and our capacity for greatness. It is difficult to imagine where our world would be today if Thomas Edison was satisfied with conventional candle light. What will the world have to say about us two hundred years from now? What discoveries will be left untouched because our creativity was exchanged for convenience? Our progress as human beings is contingent on not only our ability, but also our willingness to engage in greatness. If we are to succeed, we must reevaluate the patterns that are prohibiting us from reaching this potential, and strive to make our lives extraordinary.