By: Gabriela Yareliz
One of the most interesting books I have ever read is Seeing What Others Don’t by Gary Klein. It’s a heavy read, but I encourage anyone to pick it up. (I have a special disdain for those who are like, I’ll fill you in on what it says, as you wouldn’t be able to understand it. It’s this level of arrogance and apathy that has made the world as unconscious as it is).
Individualism, (which has synonyms such as: unconventionality, eccentricity, freethinking and independence), gets a bad rap these days. We think a lot about the collective and moving as a collective. Now, I am not writing this as advocating for selfishness. I think this is a sloppy label slapped onto individualism by people who don’t understand the contributions individualism has brought to us, as a society.
While the world was mired in groupthink, we have had people who dared to embrace solitude, discrimination and ideas and concepts that were seen as crazy or moronic by the morons of their time.
Something a lot of the people in Seeing What Others Don’t had in common was they were often ridiculed or thought crazy for their discoveries and theories. Then, later, they were proven right. They kept pushing, despite everyone around them trying to silence them. Sometimes, they had to make rash decisions in a blink to save lives.
Here are some people who defied groupthink and pushed toward knowledge and truth:
Gregor Mendel (Pioneered the science of genetics. He had an experimental garden for seven years where he was breeding and cross-breeding peas. It wasn’t until about 16 years after his death that people finally understood what he was talking about.)
Ignaz Semmelweis (Known as “saviour of mothers.” He came up with the concept and observation of lives being saved when doctors would wash their hands between autopsies and births. He was sent to an insane asylum, and then Louis Pasteur, 20 years later, proved him right.)
George Zweig (Called crazy because he believed in invisible particles. Contributed to partical physics.)
Albert Einstein (His math re the cosmological constant was right on the money. This was seen after he was treated like an idiot for a long while.)
[Fun details are here and in encyclopedias (online or books– not hard to find).]
And these examples are just scientists. I would argue even Jesus makes the list of defying the public’s general understanding of life and how things should work.
My point is simple. The world has been utterly changed and flipped upside down by people who clung to their convictions and ideas bravely, not out of ignorant stubbornness but out of seeking knowledge and truth. People like that still exist, thank God.
Seeking knowledge and truth always requires freedom. There is no way around it. There were always people who criticized and tried to censor, but they always ended up on the wrong side of history.
George Orwell once wrote, “Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”
In such polarizing times, we should remember to leave the door open to those who are seeing what others don’t. Time seems to be the rewarder of such people. Being on the side of freedom, knowledge and truth can never be wrong.