There is a certain perniciousness that comes with the quotes that people post on their social media. Most of these quotes are like mind viruses, memes so to speak, that people swallow and they become in a sense like an ideology that speaks in place of the person, because they have not critically evaluated or experimented with these quotes.
One of the most pernicious meme’s is that everyone is a genius in something, that we need to find that part of our lives we are geniuses at. While I think this is true, that we all have talents that remain undiscovered, they often remain undiscovered because of the definition of genius.
Our society worships the uber-mensch, the superman as described by Nietzche, But make no mistake, as Valentin Tomberg wrote “The world is divided. There are those who worship the gibbor, the strong hero – Nietzsche manifested with force and talent that this is so – and there are those who love the tzaddik, the righteous man.”
It is not the tzaddik that these meme’s are talking about. They are talking about the superman. The person with unusual skills that make him a “success.” It includes the superman Stoic philosophers or to quote Tomberg again, also “the superman of India plunged in contemplation of eternity” Earning a livelihood and a career does not require you to find out what you are a genius in! It just requires you to have a practical mind and to use your common sense to determine your strengths. Many a young person is led astray with dreams of being a superman when good paying jobs are available but are not ones that are associated with this ideal.
And what about the righteous man? What about the people in this world who strive for perfecting their moral life? There are geniuses in kindness, geniuses in patience, and geniuses in charity to name just a few traits of the moral life. Each is a perfected skill some born with innate talent that has been honed. Those are not considered supermen by the world, yet those are what the world most desperately needs. Next time you get caught in the worship of the superman, remember that there is an alternative.