I have spent my life trying to find exceptional people. There are fewer than I would like, and many have not made it this far. Exceptional people have throughout history been persecuted by average people because they are ahead of their time, hence they often oppose the status quo, and by extension are mysterious. Mysterious people are unpredictable to the average person. Unpredictability leads to fear of the unknown, which leads to persecution.
For their ideas extraordinary people have often lost their lives, been isolated, demonized, discredited, and criminalized. I will point out some poignant examples of historical and popular figures I feel fit this description: Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Alex Jones, Jesse Ventura, Bradley Manning, Jullian Assange, the Dahli Llama, Ai Weiwei, Martin Luther King, Nicola Tesla, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, Galileo of Galilee, Copernicus, Socrates (assuming he is not fictional), and Jesus of Nazareth (assuming he is not fictional). This is but a tiny list that consists largely of “Westerners” and is severely lacking in women (this is why we need “women’s history”) that I have come up with basically off of the top of my head.
There are also entire cultures that have been persecuted. The Jewish (culture of) people have been persecuted throughout the Jewish Diaspora and continuing on into modern times. There is a disproportionate amount of exceptional Jews because of their societal values (not to mention their cliquish tendencies) and it has gotten them into a lot of trouble. The Gypsies have historically had the same problem, as have the people of Tibet, and the Native Americans (who were also persecuted for their land). You may disagree with the specific people and/or cultures I have given as examples, but I trust you get my point nonetheless.
Fear is dangerous. We should do our best to not fear each other unnecessarily. Bear in mind that just because a person or a group of people seem mysterious or unpredictable that it doesn’t mean they are bad people. Remember that we are all here to do good, at least in our own minds, unless we are actual sociopaths (which is hard to prove). Remember that we should always err on the side of liberty. We would do well to base our reactions to others on the actions of others, not on their words or ideas. Remember that we should not try to cause each other pain as a result of our fear of the potential actions of others.
A wise man once told me that anger is an emotion that is secondary to pain. As Buddha said, “life is suffering” (the corollary is also true – life is joy). Therefore, we all suffer pain. When we suffer pain we are prone to lash out and cause others pain. This is where we have the opportunity to stop the cycle of pain we cause each other. This does not make us dangerous people. It makes us human. Don’t let society tell you that you are anything less.
Society will judge you based on what it thinks you may do if it deems you an unpredictable person. Mysteries and unpredictability are scary to societies too. The fears of society often lead to us giving up our liberties. Let’s remember the words of Benjamin Franklin (often attributed to Thomas Jefferson): “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” We would do better to live in societies based on mutual love and respect for each other rather than societies based on fear of each other. We would do well to resist rigidity and give those with thoughts different from ours a chance. We will surely suffer for it if we don’t. Be courageous enough to suffer and not pass the pain on to anyone else; that is what an exceptional person does. Have the courage to be exceptional.
If you can, forgive the “preachy tone” of my post.
With love and respect,