the importance of being important

Just got an email from my friend Fred Andresen: "After reading that Shahzad, the man who has admitted planting the bomb in Times Square, was from a prominent Pakistani family, was well educated and secure in his American citizenship, yet attempted to murder so many innocents, I can’t help but remembering the foreword to Lajos Egri’s book, “The Art of Dramatic Writing.” It is clear the man wanted to reach a level of importance he never achieved in his own family or society. Egri’s example explains so much." Fred attached the following excerpt from Egri's intro:


The Importance of Being Important

During the classic time of Greece a terrible thing happened in one of the temples. One night the statue of Zeus was mys­teriously smashed and desecrated.

A tremendous uproar arose among the inhabitants. They feared the vengeance of the gods. The town criers walked the city streets commanding the criminal to appear without delay before the Elders to receive his just punishment.

The perpetrator naturally had no desire to give himself up. In fact, a week later another statue of a god was destroyed. Now the people suspected that a madman was loose. Guards were posted and at last their vigilance was rewarded; the cul­prit was caught.

He was asked, "Do you know what fate awaits you?"

"Yes," he answered, almost cheerfully. "Death."

"Aren't you afraid to die?"

"Yes, I am."

"Then why did you commit a crime which you knew was punishable by death?" The man swallowed hard and then answered, "I am a nobody. All my life I'v

been a nobody. I've never done anything to distinguish myself and I knew I never would. I wanted to do something to make people notice me...and remember me."

After a moment's silence he added, "Only those people die who are forgotten. I feel death is a small price to pay for immortality!”


Yes, we all crave attention. We want to be important, im­mortal. We want to do things that will make people exclaim, "Isn't he wonderful?"

If we can't create something useful or beautiful ... we shall certainly create something else: trouble, for instance.