The greatest ___________ (fill in the blank); how do we decide who or what is most important to count?

Last week I shared the Charles Schulz’s philosophy on what’s most important to us all.  The piece starts with a list of what defines success to many people: extreme wealth, winning pro athletes, beauty pageant winners, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, and Oscar-winning actors.  Of course, Schulz’s philosophy goes on to expand on what’s really important to most people.

A few days ago fellow blogger John Persico, with the great blog name of Aging Capriciously, posted a piece that similarly looked at how we decide what or who is the best or greatest in any particular area.  This particular blog post is called The 10 greatest of everything – to me anyway.  John made it clear that the ten categories he chose to evaluate are just his choices.  The criteria he used to determine who or what would be declared the greatest in each category are likewise his alone, and he allowed that someone else might choose very different criteria (like me, for example!).  And he made it clear that he thought about it long and hard, researched the “candidates” for selection, and had a lot of fun doing it.  His categories and criteria certainly gave me food for thought, which is what blogging is all about, right?!

Here are the categories John chose to evaluate for greatest ever: greatest prophet, greatest book, greatest general, greatest empire, greatest leader, greatest writer, greatest philosopher, greatest scientist, greatest individual athlete, and greatest composer.  Any of you who know me very well will be able to identify some of John’s categories that made me alternately drop my jaw and/or smile!  But those are the categories that were of interest to John.  More power to him.

His criteria also intrigued me; if I were going to create my own version of a list of 10 Greatest, I’d be changing both the categories and the criteria.  And he’d be fine with that.  After thinking about this for quite a while (while watching the totally awesome U.S. Open Women’s Finals Saturday evening, even if Canada’s Leylah Fernadez didn’t quite pull it off), as an alternative I’m going to suggest a somewhat different approach.  Any reader who is looking for a fun challenge is encouraged to join me.  We’ll start by constructing a sample list of who has made the most significant contribution to making the world a better place to live in a number of categories.  Here we go, along with a few possible candidates, just to get the ball rolling.

Who has done the most to:

  1. Improve the rights for women (voting, working, education, driving, planned parenthood, etc.)
  2. Improve the rights of children (end forced labour, access to education, access to healthcare, end forced child bride marriages, etc.) Malala
  3. Improve the rights, respect, and dignity of minority groups (overcome discrimination, oppression, enslavement, systemic racism, displacement, etc.)
  4. Fight for safe passage and hope for a future for refugees, whose numbers are growing
  5. Combat global poverty
  6. Promote peace
  7. Provide inspirational leadership by demonstrating the values of peace, compassion, and human dignity  Mandela
  8. Combat climate change and environmental degradation  Greta
  9. Promote wildlife conservation  JaneGoodall
  10. Advance medical knowledge and improvement in health worldwide

Remember that there are three aspects to this challenge.

First, everyone who goes for the challenge needs to consider which ten categories to include on their list.  I can think of a few others I might want to add to my draft list, but if so then I’ll have to decide which categories to delete.

Once you’re happy with your list, the next step is deciding on criteria for each category.  What criteria will you use to evaluate each person who might be deserving of this recognition?

And, of course, the last step is to spend time researching who in fact has made significant contributions in each of your final categories – throughout history – and use your criteria to determine the “winner” in each category.  Now that’s my idea of fun!

Many thanks to John Persico for giving me much to think about.  He’s very good at that.  My hope is to have my categories, criteria, and “winners” finalized in one week’s time.  I’d love to hear from you with your ideas on possible categories, criteria, and/or suggested candidates in any or all categories!  I hope you have fun thinking about it.

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18 Responses to The greatest ___________ (fill in the blank); how do we decide who or what is most important to count?

  1. Pingback: My self-imposed challenge: who have been the most significant contributors to making the world a better place to live | Robby Robin's Journey

  2. Wow, this is a lot to think about!

  3. tyagjo says:

    Greetings!
    Individual transformation having been realized none of creatures/living being’s Life is Eternal. Having the Gift of Sixth sense to 🤔 think, we Humans should live and allow others to live.
    Thank you…

  4. heimdalco says:

    WOW! I just finished writing a blog entry that took me most of this afternoon so my brain is kind of foggy right now. But I DO admire your energy in moving this forward. I think I’d have to suggest as a category, Best Pet. Of course for me that would be cats & I wouldn’t even have to research it. The one sitting on my lap while I’m typing this has convinced me … LOL. I will be interested in reading your follow-up post in a week.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Lol. Best pet, I love it! I’m not so sure that it fits in with who has made the most significant contributions to making the world a better place, but I can see the case for the contribution pets can make to our individual well-being. If I were to include the best pet category, I’d go with cats, too! Especially our sorely missed Samantha!!

  5. BernieLynne says:

    I’m along the lines of Pooh here – all that thinking hurts my head! Will be interesting to read your post. As usual you will do a fabulous job of researching it.

  6. boblorentson says:

    I think it would be very hard to improve on your list.

  7. Dr. John Persico Jr. says:

    HI, what a great idea. I have always thought that Genius is just the building up of ideas until we hit something truly worth while. I have to say that Robby’s ideas are Genius. I chose the conventional categories and hers are what really matter to create a better world. I think the outcome of her blog will be really useful since we can now have many other perspectives on what really counts to you and other readers. I have had my shot at this so I look forward to seeing what others have to say. Thanks Robby for keeping this dialogue going. John

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