Contributions of Others

Many times I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellow-men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.  ~Albert Einstein

It is easy to forget our indebtedness to others (and to circumstance) when we want to take credit for an accomplishment. Yet any accomplishment is the result of numerous factors, most of which have little to do with our own abilities or efforts. We are in the right place at the right time to make something happen. We have had advantages of mobility, exposure to people and ideas, wealth or class privileges, freedom from oppression, health, support, leisure, and so on.

This is not to discount the importance of seizing the opportunity, of having the preparation, intelligence, insight one needs to make the most of these advantages. It is just to say that taking sole credit for anything is specious. We are interdependent with one another and with the world. And Einstein had the rare ability to understand that.

Incidentally, the more quotes I come across from Einstein, the more I love him!  Maybe I need to read something longer than a paragraph. It was he who also said, “The only way to escape the personal corruption of praise is to go on working.” But that is for another day.


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