Eliot Ness was a man constructed of enough raw steel to take down the bigger-than-life mobster Al Capone and while Capone never answered for his most corruptible and deplorable illegal actions that included boot-legging, money laundering and murder, Ness gambled his professional and personal life to assure that Capone was at least tried and convicted on a measly tax evasion charge.
Ness clung to his righteous conviction that good would indeed conquer evil, refusing Capone’s offer of $2000 per week to turn a blind eye to Al’s illegal liquor activity. Ness died of a heart attack, nearly broke, at 54 years of age.
Not one Chicago paper announced Eliot Ness’ death.
Nikola Tesla, a brilliant engineer who created “invisible radiation” – that which we now know as an x-ray – and the transmission of radio waves long before Marconi had been credited for the creation of the radio using Tesla’s patents, found himself the subject of ridicule and back-handed schemes cast by Thomas Edison and Nobel Prize judges.
A life-long bachelor, Tesla was found dead and alone by a maid in his New York hotel room. He was destitute, broke and heavily debted.
These two examples serve as poignant reminders that there are souls – few in number as they may be – that stand first for integrity and the betterment of the human element, regardless of their own well-being and to the detriment of their own peace of mind.
Their lives were not wasted by weakness, but empowered by selflessness.
And though both men’s names are easily recognized in modern day and long after their deaths, their mortal lives on earth were spent under pendulous shadows of rejection, nay-saying, consternation and theft of their priceless work and ideas. They were shunned not only for their intelligence and fastidiousness, but also for their refusal to meld into the status quo.
As I question how such brilliant lives could have ended in such sorrowful tragedy, I look closely at my own existence and the struggles and tribulations that I’ve been faced with. I’m no crime-fighting Ness, nor am I an unfathomable genius Tesla. But I possess similar loyalty, belief in that which is right, and I am fearless to stand against those who insist on wronging others.
Attributes such as those are easily tromped upon in a world where shallowness, transparency, corruption, lying, stealing and back-stabbing are commonplace. Integrity is difficult and boring and anything but glamorous, everything that pales in the world of dirt and decadence.
Too easily are external feeds of misperception taken at face value and a reflection of how the world really is, and the lines of good and bad, right and wrong, strong and weak are alarmingly blurred.
Yet rarely is challenged or questioned the foundational adequacy of constant information to which we are exposed. Most just find it easier to believe that which is given to them than to expend the energy to think for themselves.
Lazy is easy. Immorality is what you can get away with when no one is watching. Cheating is acceptable because everyone does it…and it’s more ubiquitous than donuts in a police office breakroom.
Ness and Tesla trod the road less traveled as journeymen. The ability to stand tall against adversity originated from within their souls, whereas most that are darkly swayed by external forces are they who lack that internal understanding of themselves.
That strength can’t be taught. It is a choice. It is a daily decision made and carried out in the face of adversity and with the fear of being the outcast.
It is a gift to be embraced and exercised…one that is more precious and moving and rich and deep than any material object.
Nice guys know the truth and defend it. Bad guys know the truth and bury it. As quoted by Ayn Rand, “The truth is not for all men, but only those who seek it.”
So has been that fact since the beginning of time, and so it shall be till the end.
Nice guys understand that far too well, but they’ll be themselves anyway, for it isn’t the riches or popularity or limelight that they seek.
It will ALWAYS be the truth that serves as their driving force…and that will always be the last element to be believed.
For as long as society strives only for their own purpose over the betterment of the world as a whole; as long as ignorance and corruption are embraced and praised, Nesses and Teslas of the world will sadly be remembered in dubious infamy as washed-up and derelict embarrassments. Their remarkable achievements will be mocked by cheaters who dismiss them as suckers.
They’ll be the nice guys who finish last…but only in the race of rats.