What Makes One Great?

If you’ve ever seen Angus you’ll recall George C. Scott’s “Superman” speech.

Superman is not brave. He may be kind and decent and good, but he is not brave, and neither is he great. After all being invulnerable, he has nothing to fear. He has no weaknesses to overcome so true greatness eludes him.

Resolved:

Through our weaknesses the seeds of greatness lie within us all.

-The mediocre use their weaknesses as excuses.

-The majority learn to live with and compensate for their weakness.

-The exceptional learn to overcome their weaknesses.

-The truly great take their weaknesses and make them strengths.

Discuss.

I’ll give you bravery. A brave person is indeed one who overcomes his fears, and someone who isn’t afraid, can’t be brave - and probably won’t survive that long, either. After all, nature gave us our fears for a reason.

Greatness, however, is a different matter. While bravery is internal, greatness is external, and depends entirely upon a person’s actions, not his or her thoughts. A great man is one who does great things.

You guys- I’ve never posted in this forum, so if I fuck up, please overlook it, or at least don’t slam me in the correction.

This is very complex. Maybe. Cloudy here.

If I proceed on Scylla’s original Superman premise, then the others don’t seem to hold true-

If you are invulnerable, then you have no chance at greatness.

It might follow that the more vulnerable you are, the greater you are. Therefore, those who use their weakness’ as an excuse, might be laoboring under difficulties I can’t understand, and indeed, they might not have any inkling that they (possibly) have such (possible) handicaps. This goes to psycho/chemical problems or misconceptions, or a hardness of life that they might be dealing with. It might not be noticeable- not everything is known about the human condition, nor are all the interactions or impacts of this or that factor or combination of factors is understood.

Kind of like this: There’s a race. There are 3 contestants. One is a pretty good athlete. Another one is in a wheelchair. A third is in a wheelchair, ugly, spastic, and whiny. They finish in the order you would expect them to, except the nasty, whiny one drops out before finishing.

K, the athlete wins- no real opportunity for greatness there.

The first wheelchair guy finishes- some greatness- he probably put up with a lot of discouragement from friends and family, getting there and even getting to the starting line was way more of an ordeal for him, as was training and even the race itself, since he has to use his body differently than the athlete, in an un-natural way. It’s physically and mentally harder for him to race, train, get to the race etc.

Then, there’s this ugly, wheelchair, whiny nasty guy. He is nasty and whiny because he hates himself, the world, the correctly put-together people, his condition, god, puppies, everyting. There is no joy for him, and this is not something he can overcome, or maybe he could, with help, but he is so unpleasant, no one would take the time to do so.
So, he’s all alone in a universe of despair, hate, deformity, probable physical pain, etc.
Yet, he trains a little, not much, as he figures what’s the use. He doesn’t even know why he’s bothering.
He makes it to the race, harder for him than the other wheelchair guy, since his condition is worse. He races a little, then gives up. He is paid absolutely no attention, except for that of an unflattering variety, mad e the worse because of his general unpleasantness.
He goes home, full of hate for the world and himself, more so than usual.
He wakes up the following day, and the day after that and the day after that, etc, till he dies.
He lives until he dies, in the world described above. It takes all he has jsut to get through the day. He has nothing left for pleasantness, niceness. These things don’t exist for him, and if by chance something nice does happen to him, he is not equipped to derive any joy from it.

Out of these three, who faces the greatest struggle.

Out of these three, who is the greatest for jsut living?

He did race a little.

1st GD post. How’d i do? You know, except for the sappy hyperbole…

You got good topics, Scylla.

Not bad, Inor. I think that this subject is largely IMHO, with people debating the various opinions, but sufficient is the task to its day.

My only nit with your pick is that there are no prizes for just showing up and dealing with what life hands you, no matter how nice or how crappy the setting is.

Superman can be considered great. Just because he’s nearly invulnerable doesn’t mean he has to go out of his way to help people, fight evil, etc. He could just be your average mild-mannered reporter and the ringer for the Daily Planet’s softball team.

But he does go out of his way to help people and fight crime (supposedly to improve the quality of life for everyone in Metropolis), sacrificing much in the way of a personal life to do so, for fear of discovery.

That he is naturally better equipped to help people and fight crime than the entire Metropolis Fire and Police Departments combined doesn’t mitigate the fact that he does help people and fight crime where he could just as easily sit at home, drink a beer and say “not my problem”.

IMHO, that would be the very definition of smallness, of mind and of spirit.

Your [Inor’s] whiny paraplegic isn’t a “great” person, but he’s probably doing the best with what he was given, spiritually speaking. That doesn’t make him bad, either. He’s a survivor. He exists, though he may sometime curse his existence, such as it is.

The “Place” guy may be considered “great”, as he has the spirit and determination to try to overcome his handicap, or “special challenge”, for the politically correct. He may not win any footraces agains trained ahletes, but I don’t think that was his point. He defied his challenge, in a way normally denied people with/in his condition.

I would glady shake his hand.

The “Winner” may be considered “great” as well. Sure, he may be naturally equipped to be a better runner than anyone else, but he has to still take the time and effort to develop that aptitude, then actually endure the pain and agony of proving it (although against two guys in wheelchairs, that’s no great shakes). Taking his abilities for granted would, IMHO, make him less great than he could potentially be considered, so I suppose I’m saying that a dose of humility, in acknowledging natural talents (even the lack thereof), is in order for greatness.

Now, if he used his athletic ability to help others(charities and such), then I would say that that would increase his greatness to some measure.

Just my $.02.

To be Great is to be an ordinary person doing extraordinary things.

To be Great is to be Charlie Brown winning his first baseball game.

To be Great is to be a lone, unarmed man blocking the path of a massive tank.

To be Great is to be the calming voice of reason in a roiling sea of tears and cacophony.

To be Great is simple. To be a person is hard.

I’ll agree with that one, maybe. The rest don’t fit my description.

Are we talking about people whose entire life was great, or are we just talking about moments of greatness?

I think everyone has the potential to rise to certain occasions, but I don’t think everyone has the potential to live an entire life that would be called great.

FTR…

I would consider Superman to be a great man. I think a person’s impact on the world is probably the most important factor.

In the words of Shakespeare:

“Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness shoved up their ass.”

[sub]OK, I paraphrased…[/sub]

Greatness is in the actions of the person, however small they may be, and in the eye of the beholder. As a relatively anonymous urban dweller, holding a now very uneventful job, and doubting I’ll ever resuce kids out of a burning orphanage, I’m about as ordinary as they get. But I try to be, and hope I am or will be someday seen by my wife and kids as the greatest man that ever walked the earth.
And if bullets bounce off of Supermans’ chest… why does he duck when they throw the gun at him? (Say that in a room full of engineers… it’s hilarious)

I think Superman is great because not only does he go to all the bother to fight crime and sacrifice his personal life to help people, he resisted the temptation to turn evil. Think about it, if you were invulnerable and superstrong with the ability to fly. You wouldn’t have to work you could just take whatever you want. If he wanted power, he could have that, he could take over any country in the world. He could probably take over the whole world if he wanted. But instead he pretends to be a nebbish all day while working as a newspaper reporter, just so he can spend the rest of his time helping humanity while earning nothing for himself in the meantime. I agree that he is not brave but he is great.

Courage. I believe that courage is the seed that brings about greatness. Being brave is one thing, but courage is greater. With courage, a person is able to their acknowledge their fears, use them if possilbe and if not, be able to still do what is right even with that fear. Isn’t courage doing what needs to be done w/ no concern of oneself or dangers that are presented?

Think of it this way: You have 1 situation w/ 2 outcomes. A person is hanging on the edge of a building and cannot pull themselves to safety (far-fetched and cheesey, I know). Now, you have 2 people able to rescue this person, a fireman on the trucks retractible ladder, a person who does this more often than not, and another person at the top of the building who is deathly afraid of heights. Who would be considered greater? The fireman who is doing the brave rescue from the relative safety of the ladder? Or the person who is nearly paralyzed w/ fear over the height, but still has the courage to go to the edge, and pull them up. Who would be considered greater?

More than likely I am full of shiznit, but that is my .02$

Courage. I believe that courage is the seed that brings about greatness. Being brave is one thing, but courage is greater. With courage, a person is able to acknowledge their fears, use them if possilbe and if not, be able to still do what is right even with that fear. Isn’t courage doing what needs to be done w/ no concern of oneself or dangers that are presented?

Think of it this way: You have 1 situation w/ 2 outcomes. A person is hanging on the edge of a building and cannot pull themselves to safety (far-fetched and cheesey, I know). Now, you have 2 people able to rescue this person, a fireman on the trucks retractible ladder, a person who does this more often than not, and another person at the top of the building who is deathly afraid of heights. Who would be considered greater? The fireman who is doing the brave rescue from the relative safety of the ladder? Or the person who is nearly paralyzed w/ fear over the height, but still has the courage to go to the edge, and pull them up. Who would be considered greater?

More than likely I am full of shiznit, but that is my .02$

Compassion is what makes one great.

I think you might have hit that one out of the park.
Now, it seems to me, the question is begged; “What is compassion, exactly. As opposed to sympathy, empathy, enabling, etc”

scratch- can I be your friend? :wink:
Scylla?
You’re being a shitty host here- you are one of the quality posters here on these boards (IMO). You start a worthwhile thread like this, and then what, go to the damn bathroom for a couple days? :wink:
Getcher lil ass in here and contribute.
(all my posts are strictly my .02$)