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MIT Page on Ronald J Riley

MARCHING TO A DIFFERENT DRUMMER

America produces more inventors and inventions then all the rest of the world put together. An important reason for that is that we produce independent thinkers. We have a tradition of valuing individual rights, at least in theory. But other people are often mean to those who love to learn. The problem is probably worse when we are children. Being accepted by the crowd often comes at a price. Generally we must knuckle under to the leaders and hide our love of learning to gain their acceptance.

Einstein was one of my heroes. Einstein was a slow starter, and everyone thought he would not amount to much. I was also a slow starter, but Einstein's intellect was a far brighter star that mine will ever be. Einstein said "Great Spirits Have Always Encountered Violent Opposition From Mediocre Minds". I can see Einstein making a silly face in response to a mediocre mind. When I saw this animated GIF I knew it was perfect. So when you have a great idea, and no one else appreciates it, I hope you remember this picture of Einstein. Einstein makes a funny face

This mob rule mentality caused me great anguish. I have watched many other children suffer in the same way. Everyone wants friends. Especially when we are young.

One of the problems is that many people do not understand what a friend is. And it can take a big portion of our life to learn what a real friend is. Most of the kids that you spend time with are not real friends. It would be more accurate to call them casual acquaintances.

A real friend accepts you as you are. They accept that you may have interests that they do not share. They want to see you succeed. You should not have to hide your dreams from them. Your friendship will last for years, maybe even a lifetime.

A casual acquaintance will only know a little about you. You may have fun together but when the fun is over you will each go your own way, with no regrets. An acquaintance may turn on you at any minute, often for petty reasons.

When you mistakenly think an acquaintance is a friend, and they intentionally try to hurt you, it will cause you great pain. It often takes years and many instances of being hurt this way to learn to tell the difference between a real friend and an acquaintance.

Most inventors, and for that matter the majority of people who are unusually smart, do not share the same interests as other people their age. For some reason many people will gang up on those who are different and try and force them to be the same as the group. This is wrong, for if the group succeeds at this they hurt both you and themselves. This problem often shows itself in the form of bullies. I suggest that you check out "Taking the Bully by the Horns" at http://members.aol.com/kthynoll/bully.htm .

My solution to the problem was to form friendships with older people. This tendency came naturally, because I love to learn and I found that people older than myself were gold mines of valuable knowledge and experience. Age does not always bring wisdom, but it often does.

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