"Anyone can reach anywhere." Thousands of books on the racks (‘millions of copies of which are sold’ every year) are there simply to state this. They talk about those who succeeded from the worst. Lincoln was poor, he could not attend school and he started working from 9; his entire life was one of failures. But he became the President of USA and one of the greatest men ever lived. They cite uneducated Edison who became a great inventor, Ford (illiterate) who became a great industrialist, Andrew Carnegie who rose up from poverty to riches, and the deaf, mute and blind Helen Keller who became a great lady. They even talk about a few Negroes who, against all odds, educated themselves and achieved success.
They say aloud: ‘You are the captain of your soul; you are the master of your destiny.’ But are we the makers of our destiny? Are we truly responsible for the heights or pits we find ourselves later in life? Do heredity, environment and experiences influence the way life unravels?
They have studied only those who tried and won. The vast majority of those who failed or continue to fail go unnoticed. They made rules (generalizations of success) from the lives of those who succeeded. But their study limits itself to the attempts they made, the setbacks and failures they had to face and the sweating they did. No attempt was made to ascertain the IQ, structure of the grey matter, their biology; childhood environment, parental interaction and experiences from infancy. Are these factors not influencing one’s life? And without an in-depth of study of them are the generalizations valid?
Theoretically it may be possible to say any one can become great or rich irrespective of one’s heredity and environment. There will be so many among you readers who feel that you had faced a number of adversities and came up irrespective of them. Millions of factors influence us from the moment of conception till we die. Some of the permutations and combinations are more positive than others. Without a deep analysis we cannot say whether we succeeded because of them or in spite of them.
Prince Charles is a great philanthropist and the future king of UK. He simply inherited billions and a throne was dangling over his head when he was born. Napoleon, Hitler, Lincoln, Nelson Mandela are all highly will-powered. How many living today can match that sort of a will? Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Father Damien, Florence Nightingale and Helen Keller lived to serve others. How many of us can be like them? Not even one in a million can become like the great US presidents or other world leaders. How many will have the tenacity and patience to go on experimenting until they invent something like the great scientists? How many among us have the physique and looks of Brad Pitt, john Travolta, Britney, Aiswarya or Madonna? There has been none with the IQ of Einstein or Charles Darwin ever since nor another Picasso, Michael Angelo or Leonardo da Vinci.
Everyone cannot become Shakespeare, Goethe, Tolstoy or Maxim Gorky. The genius or the great are more born than made. They sweated it out to the top, yes, but without the innate spark and the inborn tenacity of purpose, they would not have made it to the top. If you are persistent enough you can succeed in anything. But can you be persistent enough? A Mother Teresa or a Helen Keller is the outcome of a rare combination of genetic and environmental factors and experiences.
The children of the rich and famous are always at an advantage. Those emaciated, hungry, naked, kids of slums and famine affected regions die an ignoble death along with many of their parents. There are millions who are blind, crippled, and deaf. The mentally retarded, the feeble minded and the mad cannot go up in life at all. A Bill Gates can only be duplicated with the same structure of the grey matter, biology and identical environment and experiences. Out of the millions of possible permutations and combinations in the hereditary and environmental factors, a stray combination becomes a gem. And the rest tread on the beaten, murky paths with, not even with an occasional ray.