“Prosperity Conceals Genius, Adversity Reveals It”
How does this quote from the Roman poet Horace relate to us today? It may mean that during these times of comfort for many—a peaceful homeland, a rising stock market, record-low unemployment and an overall sense of national prosperity—the true genius of our time has yet to be revealed.
Sure, there appears to be genius behind many of today’s innovations in medicine, genomics, Bitcoin, technology, VR and AI, ride sharing, same-day delivery, and the luxury of instantaneous communications and information available in our pockets and purses.
But for many, adversity is a daily reality. Poverty, illiteracy, hopelessness, attending a school that is ill-equipped to teach, the scourge of drugs impacting every strata of society, and the myriad other daily pains and sadness for which the word adversity is barely strong enough.
Genius is generally defined as exceptional intellect, creativity or some other quality that is rare or unique. I think we all have some genius in us—some quality, characteristic or power that is rare and unique. If you agree, how do we summon this genius in the service of mitigating the adversity within our sphere of influence?
I’m not talking about solving global warming, poverty or injustice, but the adversity we encounter in our daily lives.
Genius can be revealed in our ability to overlook our own daily challenges and buy a meal for a homeless man on the street, volunteer for an hour a week, help a co-worker solve a problem or just avoid honking our horn when we’re stuck in traffic. Small acts of kindness can reveal a certain kind of genius, I think. Tapping into that rare quality, talent, emotion or moment of mindfulness and dissolving just the smallest element of adversity that we encounter is a start.
I’m going to be on the lookout for adversity and glimmers of genius that might be revealed. If enough of us do this, the odds are in our favor that the real genius needed for the greatest adversity might be revealed.