Wednesday, July 8, 2009



Smart, ambitious boy: “What about politics?”

“So, assassination attempts, deception, and disrespect retreats. Once you start playing the game, there is no way out. One example -- you are fighting in exile for the freedom of your country. Your friends, struggling for the same cause, will die in the following order: one gets killed in Paris, one in Nicosia, three are liquidated by a commando in Beirut along with their seventeen bodyguards; during the following ten years, another nine of your colleagues get killed in Paris, Beirut, Cyprus, Rome, Warsaw, and Athens. I am only mentioning the more prominent ones. Shot, car-bombed, even strangled in bed. God only knows how many bombs your people placed under your adversaries' cars. Finally, in this exchange with death, your closest friend loses the battle forever. Three years later, in February, another three of your colleagues are killed, and eventually, in April, it is your turn at night, in your own guarded house in Tunis where you have returned despite warnings. Your nation will commemorate you after your death and give you the nickname Abu Djihad. And after fifteen years of endless killing and bloodshed, you are not an inch nearer to your goal.”

Red-haired boy eagerly: “But.... that does not mean that there were not others, other politicians who were able to make their dreams come true. Such as, .....for example de Gaulle survived a number of plots to kill him. At first, they tried to blow up his car, later his limousine got into machine gun fire really did. And eventually, he died of natural causes at the age of eighty-three....”

Computer buzz in a silent pause, than: “Does anyone have another question?”

Serious girl with plaits and silent voice: “I would like to do something for the people....”

“So, Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross sacrificed all his possessions, and three years after achieving his goal became bankrupt. While the Red Cross he had created functioned with the honor of salon diplomacy, he himself protested against the horrors of the French-Prussian war, was arrested and charged with being an anarchist and nihilist. After that he lived in poverty for the next quarter century, waiting for death. For fifteen years, he had been thought dead. He, the man who fought for the rights of hundreds of thousands of people suffering from wars and other catastrophes! A Swiss journalist accidentally found him, and Dunant received the Nobel Peace Prize just before he died.... During World War II, Marlene Dietrich collected one million dollars for war bonds for the allied armed forces fighting in Europe. She performed in hospitals for wounded servicemen, as well as in the front lines on the battlefield. After the war, the US Department of the Treasury sent her a thank-you letter, but soon afterwards indicted her for tax evasion. Only her friends could rescue her from imprisonment.... Lesseps, who successfully administered the construction of the Suez Canal, was ruined by the Panama Canal, losing 1,335,538,454 francs. His wife was forty- three years younger than he was, and had twelve children. Do you want to raise a family when you grow up?”

Laughter and giggling in the classroom.
Girl’s silent voice: “Hmm....”

“That usually does not correspond with outstanding talent. Mozart, Shakespeare, and Byron all had problems with their families. Tchaykovsky was known for his exceptional incapability of living a normal family life. Livingstone, the famous traveler, abandoned his wife and three children. Dickens was fifty-five, when he deserted his wife and ten children because of an eighteen-year-old actress. Einstein divorced, Chopin, Beethoven, Michelangelo, Nobel, van Gogh, Amundsen, Liszt, Dunant, Paganini, Lautrec, G.B.Shaw as well as Greta Garbo all lived their lives without families.”

From third desk boy full of energy: “I don't care, I want to be famous!”
“Does that mean that you are an excellent student?”
Energic answer: “Sure!”

“In that case you are off track. Saint-Exupéry, the writer, failed a composition test at the Naval Academy. Verdi, the composer, was not accepted to the Milan Academy of Music. Verne had troubles to graduate from high school. Dickens had no higher education. Stephenson, the inventor, learned to sign his name at the age of nineteen. Galileo Galilei was an privileged protégé at school, same as Karl Linné at the University. Additionally, this acclaimed founder of the world-wide accepted system of terminology of plants and animals had never learned the old terminology and until the end of his life, he had problems with Latin, the language the whole system is based on. Einstein failed his first university entry tests in Zürich, and the writer Thomas Mann detested school. Writer and playwright G. B. Shaw did not go to school up to the age of eleven, and was a miserable student in high school. He said: ´I haven't learned anything at school, not even that what I could have learned, had an attempt been made to motivate me´.”

Energic response: “But how far they made it!”

“So, two examples for all who certainly cared little about their studies. John Lennon, shot by a man who tried to be like him, and for whom he had previously signed a cover of his album. The first child of Charles Lindbergh, the famous pilot loved by the entire world, was abducted and killed, and much later found in a nearby forest. This was the first highly publicized kidnapping in the modern era.”

(to be continued)

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