/Drawing out human brilliance

Drawing out human brilliance

By Jim Poling Sr. 

It was a forlorn day in spite of the golden sunshine in a sapphire blue sky.
32 degrees Celsius early last week it was too hot to do anything but
sit, but certainly not outside. The humidity was suffocating and the
mosquitoes and blackflies were working overtime.
So, I condemned
myself to an afternoon of television. An afternoon of staring into the
reflection of a world where people seem to become more obtuse and
pathetic by the day.
But there on that insolent screen was an
uplifting surprise. Three hours or so of flickering film showing me how
brilliant and uplifting our world can be.
The first film was Temple Grandin, a 2010 biographical drama about an autistic woman who earned a doctorate in animal science.
Grandin, born in Boston in 1947, was unable to talk until age four and
displayed behavioral problems. She was diagnosed with autism, but her
parents rejected a doctor’s advice to put her into an institution, and
instead placed her in private schools where her high IQ was discovered
and nurtured.
Temple had poor short-term memory and could not follow
written instructions, but a long-term visual memory allowed her to
become a visual thinker. She graduated from college with a bachelor’s
degree in psychology, followed by a master’s and a doctorate in animal
Over time she became aware that anxiety and fear found in
both autistic people and animals is caused by hypersensitivity to touch
and sound. She devoted her life to alleviating anxiety and fear in both.
a teenager she designed a “squeeze machine” to help control her nervous
tensions and improved versions of it were used in schools to soothe
autistic children. Other ideas and designs revolutionized practices for
compassionate handling of livestock on farms and in slaughterhouses.
She also became a professor at the University of Colorado and an international spokesperson for autism.
that was not enough of a lesson in how brilliant humans can be, I then
stumbled into the movie version of Jesus Christ Superstar.
I have a long, complicated history with that movie and the soundtrack of the 1970 rock opera.
was a young reporter in Al berta when two excited colleagues brought
the musical album into the office. I was shocked by the music. It seemed
blasphemous and indeed was criticized by religious groups throughout
the world.
Over the years I began to look at Superstar as a work of
art, leaving aside the various religious connections.  I began to fully
appreciate the genius that went into this work.
Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and his partner lyricist Tim Rice both are musical geniuses.
Webber was a child prodigy who played the piano, violin and French horn
in early childhood. He began writing his own music at age six. It
helped, of course, that his father was director of the London School of
Music, his mother a piano teacher.
When you see the brilliance of
people like Temple Grandin, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice you have to
wonder why the world often is such a messed-up place. These people are
brilliant leaders in their own spheres and you wonder why such
brilliance is lacking in the spheres of national and international
So many of our leaders are run-of-the-mill folks who think
like, and act to please, the overall crowd. They lack the courage to say
and do what they believe is right.
When you watch movies like Temple
Grandin and Jesus Christ Superstar, you see people who think
differently from the rest of us. That is the source of their brilliance;
they are not restrained by fear of thinking differently, and course it
helps to be aided by discipline, intelligence, creativity, and sometimes
simple good fortune.
We live in times that demand brilliance in
leadership: Millions are sick and dying in a pandemic that many leaders
said happens only once every 100 years; the United States is imploding
and leaving its world leadership open to China and Russia.
It’s not
that there is a shortage of human brilliance. There are many brilliant
people out there in every field. Somehow, we have to draw them out and
into the overall leadership roles now so desperately needed.