Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – Albert Einstein
What does that mean?
Einstein is stating here that he believes everyone has some genius in them. His genius was seeing the world of physics through new eyes. I don’t know if Albert knew how to climb a tree, but I think all of us can understand that tree climbing is not what fish are good at.
Fish are good at swimming, not climbing trees. If you kept telling a fish that it was stupid (presume for a moment that the fish could understand you) because it couldn’t climb a tree, I imagine it would develop some kind of inferiority complex.
But we all have a talent, a spark of genius, somewhere in ourselves. What it might be is unique to each person. For fish, it would probably be swimming or something related to water, not trees. I don’t know if Luciano Pavarotti could climb a tree, or if he could swim like a fish, but that boy could sing!
Why is kindness important?
If you keep telling someone they are stupid simply because they are not as good at something as you are, well, that’s just stupid. We each are unique, and we each have talents (and lack thereof). The people who are considered geniuses, they are the people who found their spark and applied it to something that worked out well for them.
Edison, Ford and Westinghouse were all geniuses, each in their own way. Same for Tesla, Einstein and Faraday. We look back at them as being far beyond human, but they all had their quirks. Each of them were ridiculed and scorned at some point in their lives. Despite this lack of kindness, they continued on and were able to prove their genius to all the world. I wonder how many others quit before they could get that far?
People are ridiculed and scorned all over the planet because they aren’t as good at something as people consider to be “normal.” If you have a speech impediment, dyslexia or if you stutter, you are familiar with this. If math just isn’t your thing, but you are a whiz in art, you’re going to get grief. If you don’t run fast or have a physical difference, you’re going to get grief. Even if you’re normal, you’re going to get grief.
We need to recognize that none of us are perfectly normal, much less perfect. Cut the other person some slack. Be kind, because you probably don’t measure up to their standards in some aspect. How much better would your life be now, if you hadn’t gotten so much inappropriate grief in school, or at home?
Where can I apply this in my life?
I have trouble drawing. Even my smiley faces look a little off. Even with a straight edge, I have trouble drawing a straight line. I’m art-stupid. I know it, and I happily admit it. You could call me stupid for weeks on end, and all you would do is get tired of saying it.
I know my talents (I hesitate to call it genius) are in other aspects of my life. And this knowledge gives me confidence to shrug off the nay-sayers who may try to call me stupid. Self confidence can be nurtured by kindness and compassion.
If you know someone who is down or troubled about their apparent inability to do something that society seems to think they should be able to do, don’t call them stupid. Please don’t. They’ve heard that enough already in their lifetime. Even if you can’t help them, say a kind word or two. Acknowledge them as an equal, as someone who matters.
If you can help, please do. Even if it’s just to tell them where they might find help or get them hooked up with some assistance, please show them that kindness. If you can help train them in their strengths, you can not only help them regain their self worth, you can also help humanity as a whole. And that’s a good feeling.
If you have some talents that could help others, please consider a method to share those talents. If you’re a good tree climber, I wouldn’t try to enroll any fish in your classes, but you might have some fun teaching some kids. Actually, given today’s legal climate, that might not be a good idea. But I hope you will consider providing a little of your talents to help others feel like a person, not a fish out of water.
I have helped rehabilitate houses, taught people how to be better prepared when riding a motorcycle in traffic, and helped feed the hungry by counting boxes and organizing food and food drives. If your skill, like mine, is in logistics, then there is much you can do.
I know the world is a big place, and there are many people who could really use a little kindness. We can’t help every one of them ourselves. But we can help the one that we see today. If we all did a little bit to help one another, just think about how much nicer the world could be.