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Didem Gurdur Broo

I think no one is perfect. With this perspective, it is not easy to have role models. But Einstein never stopped to surprise me. Whenever I learn a new story about him I get impressed even more. So I thought if I am not going to have him as a role model then probably I will not have anyone really.

But wait, he is one of the most well-known scientists, isn’t he the role model of many? Probably yes. But I am not sure if we all have the same reasons for this end result. This blogpost is about my reasons.

Einstein surely is a great mind and I am not going to write a blog post about how genius he was. I am more interested in how big and beautiful his heart was. He was brave, valued equality and diversity. He was never silent and never followed the crowd. He did not liked the big words instead valued criticism, creativity and imagination. And for me he is the true representation of a role model. His incredible intelligence and mind may be the result of these great characteristics or vice versa but he was not only a genius, he had the biggest heart. That’s why we are here today 🙂

You probably heard this from me before. For me science is as questionable as anything else, we are not working on certainties but ambiguities. Scientists are not heroes (most of the time) and (most of the things we do) does not change the world (not right away), (most of us are not known and probably will never be remembered). One might as well choose to be brave, humble, and caring instead of giving the impression that we know everything. Einstein, surely, knew this and did not hesitate to say:

If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research, would it?

Today, the corridors of universities are still full of people who think that they know things. And they wouldn’t really back off if you do not agree with them. They would use their titles, achievements and etc. to convince people that they know the best and most. Einstein died in 1955, more than half a century later, this mindset and perspective are still around us. Everyone knows everything! Are we the only selected few who is lost in our minds and are always full of questions? What do we need to do to change this? Why is it this hard to be humble, open-minded and doubt what we know? Related to this, he also said:

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know

I don’t know you, but to me, these are the words of a ture person who doesn’t hide behind titles or try to be the best.

Einstein was dyslexic. I have spend my whole childhood with a wave of anger as a dyslexic. Many thought that anger was part of my character. I was misunderstood all the time. I put twice effort, have been bombarded with tools that did not understand and whatever I needed was basically non-existent. I cannot imagine how he has been treated because of his dyslexic mind. Yet still at the end he turned out to be the Einstein, I don’t know what is the excuse of most of the humanity really! We still judge people when they misspell words and directly relate that with their intelligence. You should see how thick my skin is when it comes to speaking a second/third/fourth language. (And my mother tongue is not even a language). Einstein’s two quotes below hit home for me:

Everybody is a genius but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

A great quote from him that touched my heart is the one below. As a fellow dyslexic, I felt his disappointment and heartbreak so deeply when I read this one:

The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.

If the world was a place where societies learn from their mistakes. I wouldn’t feel anything when I read this quote. And this is just the beginning. I guess many of you know now how proud I am to be awarded Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship. Is there anyone who does not adore Marie Skłodowska-Curie? Einstein certainly did. He supported her in the worst days of her life when she was denied a seat in the French Academy of Sciences (and we all know that the reasons for that were limitless. She was an atheist, she was a woman and her romantic relationship with Langevin was just announced in newspapers at this time.) You should read the whole letter that he wrote to her but this sentence is just gold:

[i]f the rabble continues to occupy itself with you, then simply don’t read that hogwash, but rather leave it to the reptile for whom it has been fabricated.

(RuPaul has another quote in the same lines with this but it should be a separate post :D)

These words from Einstein during a memorial celebration of Marie Skłodowska-Curie at New York’s Roerich Museum in 1935 made me cry. And you know how difficult it is to make me cry :D!

If but a small part of Mme. Curie’s strength of character and devotion were alive in Europe’s intellectuals, Europe would face a brighter future.

I didn’t know that he liked sailing. I just come across a photo of him on a boat just a few months ago. Then I thought, sure he loved sailing! Walter Isaacson writes: “He usually went out on his own, aimlessly and often carelessly. Frequently he would go all day long, just drifting around, remembered a member of the local yacht club who went to retrieve him on more than one occasion.’He apparently was just out there meditating’.” I mean, what more one needs to love this guy? Unfortunately, Nazis seized his boat and he never had it back but he kept the memories of it. Not surprisingly this quote from him is well understood by any sailors.

Nature conceals her secrets because she is sublime, not because she is a trickster.

Did you know that he wrote an article titled “Why socialism?” for the first issue of Monthly Review (May 1949)? I learned this just a year ago and read the article right away. I was in a very boring meeting, and I do not know how I found that out. I just left the meeting right away and instead read his article. What can I say? I find some meetings very boring and, as a rule, I think no one should ask anyone to stay in a meeting if they do not find it enjoyable 😀 Ah ok, ok! I am changing “enjoyable” to “bearable” otherwise who will attend most of the meetings, isn’t it? Back to Einstein. Yes, he wrote for the first issue of the longest continuously published socialist magazine in the United States. Here, I expect some cheering, embrace yourselves!

I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals.

I couldn’t find exactly when he said this. But when I am thinking about the time and situation he has been, it could be any day. Then, if we think about today, there is no difference really. The world is full of people who do not dare to talk or act on very important topics from discrimination to racism, to climate crises, to violence, and many more.

The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.

I will not talk about his support for the Jewish community, as a person who run away from Germany in very difficult conditions, many can think that was not so extraordinary. But I want to underline this aspect. While we still live in a world that we need support campaigns such as Black Lives Matter, Einstein – as a well-known perhaps even privileged white man – did not hesitate to call racism “a disease of white people.” He wrote one of his “most articulate and eloquent” essays advocating for the civil rights of black people in America in 1946.

I believe that whoever tries to think things through honestly will soon recognize how unworthy, and even fatal, is the traditional bias against black people. What … can the men of goodwill do to combat this deeply rooted prejudice? He must have the courage to set an example by word and deed and must watch lest his children become influenced by this racial bias.

Before concluding this blog post I want to share this one last quote from Einstein.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.

Surely, none of us will be Einstein but at least we can try to be like him.

Let’s be brave, let’s do not hesitate to say what we think, let’s value imagination and be humble when it comes to knowledge!

Let’s use our power/fame to be a voice for others, let’s try to understand the nature and sea.

And don’t forget to stick out your tongue when it is necessary!