I have sometimes wondered what it means to be the greatest person in the world. Did you have to be a President of a country, a tech billionaire which has several billions of people on their platform, a religious leader? What makes people legendary and is there any way to rank them, especially so one can reach the top?
Many people have tried to classify this using different parameters. In several, two persons identified as spearheads of the largest religious organizations have come out tops. One is Mohammad, the other is Jesus. Through them, billions of living and dead people have designed their ways of life. In today’s world, other people are commanding the attention and lifestyle of billions of people. About half of the world’s population rely on platforms overseen by Mark Zuckerberg. The fact is that none of the religious leaders were able to oversee that many people in their lifetime. While you might say that the population was much smaller, in terms of percentages, they still did not command nearly enough that Mark commands. Returning to the topic of this article, what makes you the greatest person in the world?
Do you rank by resistance? Here, you start to look at people like Mandela, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King (that’s a lot of M’s) or Mahatma Gandhi. All these people mean the whole world to millions of people, whose lives are significantly better because these people, amidst other voices around them, commanded change that provided people with a little more of a good life.
Do you rank by pioneers of scientific advancements? Here, you start to look at Nikola Tesla, Einstein, Marie Curie, Newton, Edison, Maryam Mirzakhani, Ford, and so on. So many of them. If you delve into the scientific foundations and innovations, there are just too many people who have contributed significantly to humankind’s progress which has seen us overcome existential pandemics to raising our productivity and understanding of the world. Our lives have evidently improved in tremendous ways.
Do you rank by political leadership? Winston Churchil, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Sankara, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jomo Kenyatta, Angela Merkel. All these people affected millions of people in their lives. Therefore, in what proportions do we judge? The longevity of influence, and demography of influence, the history of influence?
The flaw in determining this is the boundlessness of influence that exists in human lives. Each person’s life is the result of hundreds of diverse people putting in work to move the world forward. A young person who is a Muslim and a slave in America, have at least two major influences in Muhammad and Lincoln. These two influences would have transformed his spiritual and physical freedom. Then you have educational influences, healthcare influences, technology influences. Today, due to the platforms like Twitter, being heard no longer comes at a huge cost and there is less gatekeeping on what can be shared. This has meant hordes of platforms that advocate for different freedoms can easily garner the support they want to enforce that freedom in a way no one has ever done before.
This has steadied my need to be the greatest person in the world. It is simply impossible to hold that much dominance in the whole world. We can however do great work that causes major influences across people’s lives. Today, with technology, we are also able to deliver impact to billions of people and change their lives faster.
This also reflects the democracy of influence that can exist. In whatever field I seek to work, I can impact the lives of billions of people and have a share in the catalogue of the legendary. This also erases the need for competition. People need to work together to increase the value of humankind to itself. Whether in the same fields, adjacent fields or very separate fields, our world is a connected ball of influence that ensures that when we do good, we find our good in the lives of daily people, the same way our evil snowballs across places we barely ever think it will reach.