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Old Souls of Modern Thought: Why grades don’t make the man

by / 0 Comments / 24/11/2017

I think that in life, perhaps, we — the youth of modernity — each need to take a step back and observe what is truly important. Not to us, but to those around us, both young and old.


 

I have been known, for roughly three years, as a keen anti-theist and political debater who, whether for better or for worse, engages in philosophical conversation and fierce theological debates. In these, I have endorsed the likes of Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Bertrand Russell, George Orwell, Plato, Socrates, and Margaret Thatcher — just to name a small number of controversial figures who have inspired me.

It has often been the case that, for the sake of my ideals, my convictions and my beliefs, I have torn apart the relationships that I once held dear. For this, I have felt a sense of woe. There have been times when I have felt alone in the world, there have been times when my motto ‘carpe diem‘ seemed so very far from my grasp, and there have been times when I have felt personal failure.

When I first chose to scribble my thoughts on the nearest available scraps of paper and in the back of notepads, I felt a sense of triumph; and triumphant, I was. For, I had found that my mind, when combined with a pen, was a powerful tool with which I could make people contemplate the norms of society. This was a new experience for me — one could say that my days of writing throughout my time in education were particularly lacklustre, as I struggled to convert natural ability into the remembrance of knowledge for the sake of my examinations. I must admit that, due to this struggle, any form of motivation was very much sapped from my mind; however, I have since come to realise that — for all of the benefits that it may bestow upon us — we should not allow the concept of educational grading define us as a person.

I imagine many of you also suffer from the same problem as I. For our sakes, I find that a quote that is far too often wrongly attributed to Albert Einstein best describes the scenario that I have found myself pinned down by throughout my life:

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid’.

Whoever did produce this quote is, arguably, speaking the truth. In the majority of countries across the globe, meritocracy is heavily relied upon to select the upcoming generation of rulers and influential people; those who lack the capabilities to achieve well in education are, more often than not, considered to be ‘stupid’. Having said that, we must also take note of the fact that it is the establishment itself, as well as our peers who tend to comment on our inability, or deem us to be too poor a choice for employment.

I believe that, though meritocracy will not allow for the success of like-minded people, we must nevertheless provide a voice, united. Now, I am not going to suggest that I, myself, have produced a method that would allow the human race to transcend into an age of utopia where peace, tranquillity and serenity are the only attractions to us. Why? Because I have not. However, when sat around tables with my peers, who are in the same boat as I, also attempting to engage in debate, in the foray that is modern politics, I cannot help but sit and listen, ever-so enticed, to a myriad of alcohol-infused ideals.

Now, when the phrase ‘alcohol-infused’ gets mentioned, most people would expect a torrent of poppycock to come from a person’s mouth. However, we — as a collective consciousness — believe that the Ancient Greeks were correct in their use of a term that they coined: entheos. The English translation of this ancient word is ‘full of the god, inspired, possessed’ and from it came the English word, enthusiasm. The Greeks of the time believed that alcohol allowed for entheos; the modern state of being ‘tipsy’ after a few beverages, when the typical young man gains confidences and believes himself to be capable of bedding a supermodel.

For egotistical reasons we, as a society, have given up on philosophical thought and the potential enlightenment that alcohol-infused conversations can bestow upon us. But of course, since conforming to social norms is not the forte of myself or those who reside within my inner circle of comradery, we much prefer the bohemian lifestyle — choosing to be of an older, more traditional British mindset, rather than the obscenity of modernity.

I suppose one could almost say that my friends and I are ‘old souls’. Where we lack grades, we have an arsenal of common sense and capability which results in a formidable, though disregarded, intellect.