Best in The World

Here is a thing that messes with my head.

Imagine all of the people on this planet, the sheer number of people. Billions and billions of people. Think of the largest crowd that you have ever been in and how that is a minuscule fraction of the world’s population. That idea may melt a brain in its own right, but let’s go a layer deeper. Think of all those individuals that we identify as the best in the world at one thing or another. This is what messes with my head: how can we possibly know?

So you say, that is why we compete. We have competitions, tournaments, games, finals, examinations, trials, contests, quizzes, elections, displays, exhibitions, and all manner of forms and formats for people to measure themselves against one another. But, I say, all of these events are excluding a huge portion of the global population. And try as we might, through organisations great and small across the world, we may only unearth the best available rather than humankind’s very best. What if someone’s great talent is never recognised by force of circumstances? What if the best individual at a given thing is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time? Think about it this way: The best pianist in the world might not even own or have access to a piano. The best footballer in the world might be part of a family that prefer staying in and playing board games. It stands to reason that, for all manner of reasons, there are people in this world who do not get the opportunity to be their best. Natural geniuses and child prodigies cause us to assume that natural abilities are inevitably nurtured. But what if they are not? What if we remain unaware of the potential skills and talents waiting to be unlocked within us?

It just messes with my head to think that someone out there, among the billions and billions, has this dormant ability going untapped. Or, for example, myself. Think of all the Olympic gold I would have obtained if I had ever trained (or had the inclination to train) to the limit of my athletic ability. If only some of the Egg and Spoon races of my formative years had gone my way, but alas; I was disenchanted by those cheats who glued the egg to the spoon. In a similar way, think of all the awards and international acclaim I would have earned if I had doubled-down on the tin whistle in school. There is little doubt that I would have unlocked my hidden (deeply, deeply, hidden so very deeply as to appear non-existent) musical mastery. Think now of my quiet anguish and suffering as I see others unjustly take the plaudits that would surely be mine, if only circumstances made it so that I would exert myself in any sort of meaningful way.

Instead, I watch these people delude themselves into thinking that they are the “best in the world.” As if that could ever be anything but assumed. As if it should not matter that I have not had the opportunity to measure my best against their best. How can anyone possibly know?

Let me tell you, that really messes with my head.

One thought on “Best in The World

  1. A few points.
    1/ The potential to be the best in the world and being the best are different. Any area of excellence requires an enormous investment of time and effort. So even if someone with the best potential joined the fray at a late hour success would be very doubtful.
    2/ Some do not like competition or assessment and prefer a quieter existence. Assessment is considered a sort of intrusion and only welcomed for the process of self discovery.
    3/ Equality of opportunity is a serious issue and it’s getting worse.
    4/ Public education systems were invented as a sort of daycare for children who could no longer work in factories. The emphasis was on achieving a minimum standard for literate factory workers. The opportunity for any sort of self awareness is still limited. So, many leave school with no idea what they want to do.
    5/ Competition for resources in narrow fields is also a bar to real specialization. This along with the current classification of roles cut down the freedom to explore or even be aware of your true areas of interest.
    6/ Of course where is that great suck it up speech by thousand eyes from the Marco Polo series about Kung Fu, “…when your bone ache from toil and your so exhausted you cannot breath…”

    In summary, the economic notion of perfect knowledge is nonsense. Luck and situation of birth are huge factors, and getting bigger. These things will always be an issue. But, the effects can be reduced through the use of progressive tax systems, universally available global knowledge pools and tools and leave for the young to pursue their own interests and be judged on their abilities rather than their age, parentage or social group.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.