As we encroach with either zeal or trepidation, or perhaps a murky mess of both, on the upcoming election riddled with doubt, fear, absurdity, hope, passion and a host of other emotions and superlatives…AGAIN, I wonder what certain people would do in my place. By people, I mean those people who have helped shape me and whose sage advice I have tried to use. And after an episode of “60 Minutes,” I wondered even more.
Albert Einstein, one of the greatest thinkers, scientists, mathematicians and humanists of our time, died almost 65 years ago. Dwight D. Einsenhower, the decorated veteran better known as Ike, was in the White House along with a pre-Watergate Richard Nixon. The liberal California governor Earl Warren held the post of the top judge after being snubbed as a presidential candidate with Dewey.
The maniacal Senator Joseph McCarthy had just been censured by a unanimous vote in the Senate following his reckless “Red Scare” against so-called Communists and the lesser-known “Lavender Scare” against homosexuals. McCarthy’s letter that launched his tyrannical campaign was first introduced in 1950, five years before Einstein’s death. He considered him a danger to intellectual freedom and a threat to American freedoms, not to mention a witch hunter of the worst kind. It would be interesting to see how his philosophy would translate to the present day if Einstein were entering the voting booth in 2020.
Screech….not to worry, this is not going to be my treatise on politics nor will I spill out scathing criticisms of the candidates or my opinions of them. I will, however, tell you what prompted this thinking. It was the Sunday evening program called “60 Minutes.”
Yep, it sucked me in once again, and launched me into another universe of thinking. I remember as a teenager watching a show about cattle ranchers, and a “60 Minutes” correspondent was uncovering the horrid conditions at a faraway place in the Midwest…yes, it seemed far away from my small town in New Jersey.
It was at that moment, and yes, I can say that pretty emphatically, that I decided I would be a journalist. Yeah, I had been writing creatively since my toddler days with my crayon-laden stammering on paper. And my mom used to call me her “little Margaret Mitchell.” But it wasn’t until that evening that I really discovered what I could do with my talent and compulsion to write. I could actually make a difference instead of just a pile of stapled pieces of paper decorated with random stories and pictures.
Two people I’d like at my dinner table: Charlie Meets Albert
Have you ever been asked the question, if you had the choice to pick five people to share a meal with, who would they be, living or dead? The entertainer Charlie Chaplin and Einstein are two of them for me. Not sure they would be sitting next to Shirley Temple or Jane Goodall.
Charlie and Albert were two of the most famous individuals of the 20th century. They clearly followed different paths, but somehow they both admired one another. It has been said that they met once in the 1930s amid a crowd of adoring fans. They waved to the throng and reportedly exchanged the following words:
Einstein: What I most admire about your art, is your universality. You don’t say a word, yet the world understands you!
Chaplin: True. But your glory is even greater! The whole world admires you, even though they don’t understand a word of what you say.
I mention these little antidotes because you just never know what’s going to inspire you to write or cause you to make an impression on someone else. Whether it’s politics, a piece of literature, another person’s actions, or something else, inspiration can come in many different forms. Instead of trying to figure them out, embrace them.