One thing that has baffled me for the better part of my life is the question that whether good is better or the great? I mean great in the sense of Alexandar the great. I mean a person with great prestige and power. A person with Julian authority and Herculian jurisdictions. I mean good in the sense of a literally nice man, but that’s all. Well a little knowledgeable too perhaps, but mostly only nice. A person such as Baruch Spinoza or Bertrand Russel. They were nice guys and so many others as well. But that’s all what they mostly were.
I grew up in a power-oriented society. As a small child, I was sent off to a boarding school. Just as a university is a mini-cosmos, that place was a small jungle. Seasoned folks around my age had a really elevated sense of grabbing power and manipulating others. Only those lads would be given important assignments who could dominate the rest. Even teachers used to respect the bullies as they knew that they were the ones who would bring order to the school.
On the other hand, a nice person with great debating skills or a good sense of art or music was only worth a compliment at most. They were not taken seriously. Nobody even feigned to be taking them seriously.
The same kind of behavior was prevalent in the university. Teachers were nobodies, not to be cared about. I remember I had some really nice teachers in the university. I now realized that some of them were quite talented and we did not appreciate them much then. On the other hand, even there some really domineering guys were in charge. Everyone will pay them respect. And the teachers would even be timid. They wouldn’t even be offered administrative positions. For most administrative work, the university would hire a retired but great army officer.
This trend is seen in our country even today. There is apparently a tussle between the faculty and the administration in almost every university in Pakistan. Normally the faculty is sidelined as being too impotent to run the university. Only the great guys are deemed suitable to run the university. Although one could observe converse trends about this in our society, largely this is true. A person who is really good at knitting sweaters is just a good guy at most. He is never given a power position and hence he never really qualifies for the perks that a powerful person enjoys in our society. Army personnel and bureaucrats live in big bungalows. State ministers ride huge cars and get everything they want to be done.
A nice guy is just a nice guy in turn. Literally, a person like Russel or Spinoza wouldn’t stand a chance in our society. Such people are good by nature. They spent their whole life seeking the truth. And in doing so, they are largely benign and kind. Eventually, they perhaps end up writing a book that others like to read. Some people begin to love them. There are other brave and bold people with some intellectual inclination that begin to respect them as well. But that’s it. Sometimes affairs are really bad for them. If they come in the line of political propaganda, they can literally be ruined or even incarcerated for the rest of their lives.
So what has perplexed me in life, for the most part, is whether to become a good guy with no jurisdiction or a great guy with a lot of prestige and majesty. I think the time is of the order that one should choose to be good.
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