Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Greatest American

While killing time in downtown Philadelphia today, I happened upon a Discovery Channel open house taking place on Market Street. Discovery Channel has this new program running, "100 Greatest Americans", and it is currently taking votes from Americans to vote for the top 25, then the top 5, and finally, the greatest American in history. So, there was this country fair type booth with free t-shirts and popcorn and all, trying to induce people to vote for their favorite guy right there, all the while also plugging the actual program as well. The jock in charge also had people coming up to the stage and talking about their picks for the greatest American into a microphone. I was wondering whether I should add to the chaos, but finally, recognizing that I would much rather defecate on Market Street in public view than engage in public speaking, I killed the thought.
But, if I had gone up to the mic, this is what my contribution would have been like: First of all, anyone except George Bush would be fine with me. No George Bush. Please. Ok, now that I've established that, lets move on. Greatness for me is of two kinds : One is greatness of personal accomplishment. The other is greatness of contribution to humankind. And these two greatnesses are totally different and cannot be compared with each other at all. If the first type of greatness were to be considered, I would say my candidate for it would be Lance Armstrong. Lance Armstrong, who has conquered cancer and chemotherapy and after that, gone ahead and won 4 Tour De France titles, is, I think my favorite for great personal accomplishment. And I speak from the viewpoint of an avid bicyclist, who knows what kind of stamina and physical prowess you need to go on marathon biking runs.
The other kind of greatness, with respect to contribution to mankind, I would say, my favorite would definitely be Thomas Alva Edison. Well, do I even have to elaborate? The man who made electricity a household item. Where would we be without electricity? Who knows. At least not on my laptop typing these words, for sure. So there are my two picks.
But, it was probably good for me that I did not go up to the stage to voice my opinion, because I doubt the jock, who was already pretty irritated, no doubt from the heat and from having to talk to countless people he obviously had no tenderness for, would have allowed me to have my say.

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