Once, as I was botanizing under an oak, I found amongst a number of other plants of similar height one that was dark in color, with tightly closed leaves and a stalk that was very straight and stiff. When I touched it, it said to me in firm tones: Let me alone; I am not for your collection, like these plants to which Nature has given only a single year of life. I am a little oak.
So it is with a man whose influence is to last for hundreds of years. As a child, as a youth, often even as a full-grown man, nay, his whole life long, he goes about among his fellows, looking like them and seemingly as unimportant. But let him alone; he will not die. Time will come and bring those who know how to value him.
– Arthur Schopenhauer
There are many different kinds of people. Some are rich and some are poor. Some are powerful and some are weak. Some are lasting and profound and others are only a flash in the pan. We can all see these differences. They are right in front of us and impossible to deny.
It is much harder to see the potential in people. To be able to see what someone will become requires a great deal of insight and forethought. It requires you to identify the character of the person, what drives their wants and desires, and their ability to transform that will into reality.
It is impossible to know these in total for anyone. Very few people can see what the future holds for someone. Most people even have a hard time knowing their own path. These characteristics that determine the trajectory of a life manifest themselves differently for every person.
To really get to know someone requires time. The longer you know someone, the more you can understand what really drives him. A bit of their soul shows itself with every action he takes. Each choice that is presented to him hints at that greater force that determines their potential.
If his ambitions are shallow, you will see him being controlled by his whims. He will move from trend to trend as his fancy dictates. He will sample everything but stick to nothing. Since he is bound to none, his roots will never take hold long enough for him to grow anything beyond a weed.
Someone determined and in control of his own path will show his nature through his actions. Every time the hard path is taken over the easy is a chance for him to grow stronger. Whenever intelligence and foresight win out over the temporary and pleasurable, it is a glimpse at his future greatness.
Modernity does not value the great. It values the common. It values quantity over quality. This predilection for the cheap and unlasting corrupts everything its roots seep into to. We see it in our politics whenever a demagogue gains power through pandering. We see it in the economy whenever we apply for a job that will be filled by the unskilled simply because they will work for less. We see it in each landfill that gets filled with useless plastic junk made in overseas sweatshops.
Modernity makes no exception in how it values people. Those that thrive in this environment are the parasites that thrive in the muck underneath rocks. Those that are fruitful and multiply in such a world are merely a reflection of it. They will continue to do so as long as the strong allow it.
Ultimately, this worldview will crumble. It only promotes that which does not last. It will not last either. It can only reap that which it sows: destruction.