Earlier this year, one of the mainstream media networks was planning to do a special on my retirement from neurosurgery. They recorded a lecture I gave at my medical school, as well as one given at a high school in Detroit. They also accompanied me to my old stomping grounds, where many of the neighbors came out to greet me and talk about old times.
I was struck by some of their comments, including the notion that I always had lofty, unrealistic dreams, but that they would enjoy hearing about them anyway. Someone else told me that people would always murmur among themselves when I approached, "Here comes Mr. Know-It-All. Let's get out of here." While the network decided not to air the special for some reason unknown to me, it was still a valuable opportunity for me to catch up with old acquaintances.
Similarly, some years ago, I attended the 25th reunion of my high school graduating class. The thing that struck me the most was that many of the "really cool" guys were dead. Many of my other classmates told me how proud they were of my accomplishments and asked me if I remembered how they used to encourage me. Of course I did not — no such encouragement took place — but people's memories tend to change over time.
Many of my fellow members of the Horatio Alger Society of Distinguished Americans have recounted similar stories of being regarded as different and not always being part of the "in" crowd when they were growing up. The Horatio Alger Society inducts 10 to 12 new members each year. These are people who grew up under very difficult circumstances and went on to achieve at the highest levels of their respective endeavors. Many of their names would be quite familiar to the public. Are their stories aberrant, or are we truly the captains of our own destiny?
In the game of chess, pawns are just used for the purposes of the royal pieces. In real life, many in power selfishly use "pawns" — average citizens — while at the same time vociferously proclaiming that they are the only ones looking out for the interests of the pawns, who happily follow their commands, thinking that this "royal" contingent has their interests in mind.
However, in a chess game, a pawn can become any one of the royal pieces, if it can make it to the other side of the board. The opponent will do almost anything to keep one from reaching its goal, because that would interfere with the power structure. If they can keep the pawns on their side of the board, where it is much safer, the status quo can be maintained.