I just saw this quote on someone's Facebook page. It's strange. I want to like it just because Einstein said it. He was such a bright guy that anything he said must be true. And good. But the really weird thing to me about it is that it expresses such an extremely subjective, emotion-laden opinion. Yet Einstein was a scientist. The whole point of science is to try to see reality objectively. And here the No.1 scientist of his age is straight out calling everyone stupid!
I suppose from the point of view of such a genius, lesser minds would seem stupid. And Einstein's mind was praised by everyone. He was looking down on all comers from the top rung of his ladder. Well, if Einstein saw things that way, it must be overwhelmingly hard not to. In other words, the more successful that people become, the more difficult it is for them to see their fellow humans as they really are. (Winners are superior. Losers are inferior. If not, what is the point of winning.)
Yet the objective reality of the situation, which Einstein the scientist presumably was interested in, is quite different. The victorious individuals were motivated not just by their desire to understand how the universe works, or their ability to run the hundred meters quickly, which no doubt played a role, but mostly by the group of "animal" instincts which all mammals have built into them and which pushes them to butt their way to the front of the herd. Once installed there, suddenly there is one "superior" leader and a group of "inferior" followers.
But if you take the instincts that motivate the creation of this mental scale out of the equation, the real objective reality shows itself clearly: We are just a lot of individuals. Objects in space. But we're also objects that happen to be bonded to each other by a complex set of instincts and by the resulting two-dimensional diagrams of life we all love to draw, which reduce the images of surrounding individuals to cartoons.
But somehow it works. We have civilization.
As for me, I would especially like to admire the few successful people who manage to overcome all these immense hurdles and end up not only successful but also equal to their fellow humans.
But then again ... um ... admire?