“Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized.” – Albert Einstein
If I asked all of you to make a list of the ten people who should be idolized due to their tremendous accomplishments and impact on the human race, I’m willing to bet many of you would put Einstein on your list. Yet he emphasizes that no man should be idolized. Your list of idols should not have him (or anyone else) on it.
Einstein’s quote really resonated with me when I first read it several years ago, and it remains fresh in my mind today. Read over it a few times and accept all of its implications. Idolizing anyone, to any degree, makes it impossible for you to treat them as a person. It makes it impossible to be a humanist.
There are people in this world that I have profound respect for; people who consistently leave me in a state of awe when I read their books, hear them speak, or look upon their art. But my hand wouldn’t tremble if I met any of them in-person. I’m not interested in our differences (at first); I’m more interested in seeing if they’re genuinely good people or not.
When you’re only exposed to someone’s positive attributes, it’s very easy to build them up in your head. But your imagination is reckless. Extremely talented individuals, no matter how incredible they are in their particular field, are always deficient in others.
In other words: everyone’s human. Develop the ability to appreciate every person you meet — just don’t ever put any of them on a pedestal.