But how do we attain the heights where great men reached? Or how do we distinguish between TRUE and FALSE greatness, to begin with? Understanding these two (2) questions should grant the reader some reprieve as regards the question – of SATISFACTION, of CONTENTMENT and of FULFILMENT.
From the latter question, greatness that offshoots from selfish desires is False Greatness, no matter how apparently noble it appears. As a trivial instance, if the reason for returning some missing money is borne out of the need to acquire some media acclaim, however noble it seems, breeds unfortunate champions of False Greatness. Succinctly put, does your motive match your deed? For when positive motives merge with positive deeds, True Greatness is achieved. Therefore, as a disclaimer, when we call “great men”, we refer to True Greatness.
This leads to the former question, “how do attain the heights of great men?” – by aligning our deeds with our motives, and vice versa.
An antelope by inspection, respects a lion but this does not in any way mean that he/she would seek out the lion’s acquaintanceship, probably for a political campaign. However, the ‘RESPECT’ of an antelope for a lion does not automatically transform into ADMIRATION for that lion – an adversary. If for anything, for the reason being that, a Lion is always and in all ways a threat to the antelope and her kin.
“Respect” becomes “Admiration” when the ‘respecter’ aligns her deeds and motives with that of the respected. This is achieved by a conscious and determined introspection.
Why then should RESPECT preclude ADMIRATION?
“Is it better to be loved than feared?”, asked Machiavelli. The answer was deliberate as it was stern – “It is better to be feared than loved, because fear can be controlled, but love cannot”.
In the same vein, I ask, is it better to be respected than admired? I also reply deliberately by saying, “It is better to be respected than admired, for ‘respect’ can be controlled, but admiration cannot”.
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An uncontrolled admiration leads to a loss of uniqueness, thereby making one lose his own identity – in consonance with the saying “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.
Discipline is the balance between ‘what can be’, and ‘what is’. Many attimes, the subject of control, borne out of the need for discipline should be left untouched as discerning minds may misconstrue your intent of discourse and lean towards an extreme – over-discipline/’stoiciness’ or under-discipline/carelessness. In other words, the aim of this discourse is not in striking a balance but in having a clear-cut focus – respect.
“RESPECT” should be the focus.
As an instance, many folks, by uncontrolled admiration delve into the same mistakes – costly mistakes made by those they admire, culminating in a cycle of proselytes who have lost touch with boundaries – the boundaries of when to stop their excessive admiration.
In other instances, many folks become discouraged, disheveled, indeed disoriented. Why? They have been let down. Let down by those whom they admired. Let down by their own push to align their motives and deeds with those they admire. This is akin to going ‘bumper-to-bumper’ with a moving car. “Respect” is the distance between you and the car (especially if you are driving one yourself). But the mistake often visualized in many cases is that our “admiration” often limits that distance. Therefore, the more the admiration, the less the distance; which makes two scenarios possible. One, either you may collide with the car in front, or two, you enter into a ditch you would otherwise have avoided by following from a distance.
RESPECT gives room, small as it may be, a kind of buffer – a room for error. Easily met with principled disclaimers of ‘Terms of Service(s)’, where over-stepping some moral bounds or laws will lead to the revocation of such respect.
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The distinction must be clear, with the motives and desires, true.
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