Underdog University

“There is only one road to human greatness: through the school of hard knocks.” Albert Einstein

There are moments that show me how very different at times my way of thinking seems to be from the general Swiss philosophy of looking at life.

Here in Switzerland documents rule.

One cannot do anything without the accompanying paperwork.

One does not truly EXIST without documentation.

A person´s experience and intelligence is deemed less important than the collection of certification he has obtained.

And, remaining true to the credo of capitalism, these documents are costly both in time and money.

For the fortunate few that obtain these magic pieces of paper, a respect is awarded to them that bears little indication that a man´s character possesses any real world value at all.

There is a deep reluctance in this country to trust a person´s opinion if he does not hold several university degrees.

Does this mean that expertise cannot exist outside the halls of academia?

Horse hockey, I say.

“I have always made a respectable living, but I have not been willing to give up my life to getting the kind of money with which you can BUY the best things in life.

I am stuck in business and routine and tedium.

I must live as I can, but I give up only as much as I must.

For the rest, I have lived, and always will live, my life as it can be lived at its best, with art, music, poetry, literature, science, philosophy and thought.

I shall know the keener people of this world, think the keener thoughts and taste the keener pleasures, as long as I can and as much as I can.

That´s the real practical use of self-education and self-culture.

It converts a world for those who can win at its ruthless game into a world good for all of us.

Your education (i.e what you learn, regardless of how you learn) is the only thing that nothing can take from you in this life.

You can lose your money, your wife, your children, your friends, your pride, your honour and your life, but while you live you can´t lose your culture, such as it is.”
(Cornelius Hirschberg)

“I have one piece of advice for you – not just for success in business, but personally.

Begin AT ONCE – not today, or tomorrow, or at some remote indefinite date, but right now, at this precise moment – to choose some subject, some concept, some great name or idea or event in history on which you can eventually make yourself the world´s supreme expert.

Start a crash program immediately to qualify yourself for this self-assignment through reading, research and reflection.

I don´t mean the sort of expert who avoids all the small errors as he sweeps on to the grand fallacy.

I mean one who has the most knowledge, the deepest insight and the most audacious willingness to break new ground.

Such a disciplined form of self-education will give you prestige, eminence and worldwide contacts.

You’ll enjoy correspondence and fellowship with other people interested in the same speciality.

It will add a new dimension and a new unity to your entire education.

The cross- fertilization of ideas will become an exciting and unending adventure that will add a new total perspective to your entire life.”
(Max Schuster)

“We must somehow figure out how to be a democracy of intellect.

Knowledge must sit in the homes and heads of people with no ambition to control others and not up in the isolated seats of power.

Only if the adventure of knowing and understanding is shared as widely as possible, will our civilisation remain viable.

In the end, it is not an aristocracy of experts, scientific or otherwise, on whom we must depend, but on them and OURSELVES.

The personal commitment of a man to his skill, the intellectual commitment and the emotional commitment working together as one, has made for our true progress as a species.

Every man, every civilisation, has gone forward because of its engagement with what it has set itself to do. Knowledge is our destiny.”
(Jacob Bronowski)

“Each of us should be warmly welcomed to make the finest contribution our talent and effort can fashion.

Fresh thinking and more independent research and experimentation is needed in virtually every field.

The life of the mind is open to all who want to commit themselves to the time and energy it demands.

Talent is a product people CREATE, rather than a gift they receive.

Talent is the acknowledgement that a person has identified and intensively pursued his/her passions.

Any person can discover and develop the unique potential for talented behaviour which each of us possesses.

Focus on the field of activity that you find compelling and relate all your random experience to it.

This leads to accomplishment, expertise, self-education and recognition as being talented.

Live life to its fullest.

Enjoy your enthusiasm.

Live a full life.”
(Ronald Gross, The Independent Scholar´s Handbook)

“The potential in you is new in nature, and no one but you can know what you can do, nor will you know until you have tried.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“Never underestimate the power of one individual to make a difference in the world.”
(Margaret Mead)

I may never be able to afford the time and money necessary to further my education within the halls of academia and may remain forever in employment inferior to my potential, but how I use my freetime, time not devoted for someone else´s profit margins, makes all the difference in my life.

Or as my co-worker Volkan often says, “Do what you love. Love what you do.”

You are far greater than you have ever imagined.

Believe it.

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