“Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.”
— Albert Einstein
My interpretation of the quote
Albert Einstein is considered by many as one of the greatest scientists to have ever lived. Einstein’s strength came from his ability to think clearly and act courageously.
In this, one of my all-time favourite quotes, Einstein sums up the philosophy of the greatest individuals who have graced our planet. Even if revered later, almost all great men and women have been chastised during their times. But, such individuals do not care about how others think and live. They create their own rules based on their interpretation of the world.
From Jesus Christ to Mahatma Gandhi, great souls have always encountered stiff resistance from “mediocre” people who do not understand their purpose and vision. This is because, according to Einstein, it is beyond mediocre people’s ability to comprehend the purpose of great individuals. Due to their inherent prejudicial conditioning, mediocre people fail to see how anyone can transcend existing ways of thinking. Einstein says that unlike most ordinary people, great souls do not live thoughtlessly – they use their intelligence to choose the direction of their lives and then walk on that chosen path courageously, regardless of convention.
Being against the tide will almost always produce opposition from those who believe in sailing with the tide. Yet, all great men and women have sailed against the tide of their times. Such was their belief and conviction in their purpose that even violent opposition could not stop them.
Einstein’s message for us seems to be that we should not get bogged down when we encounter resistance, especially when our intelligence prompts us to go against convention. In other words, if we wish to rise above mediocrity, then we must use our intelligence and not fear opposition, which is a given.