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The Roman poet Horace once said “adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant”. And on the surface, there are numerous examples that support this statement: our founding fathers, Martin Luther King Jr., and even our current president Barack Obama. But for every George Washington who exits out of such a situation are thousands who do not receive the opportunity to escape hardship and stay unprosperous and untalented. Therefore, I disagree with Horace’s statement in that adversity creates talent; it is only opportunity that allows you to develop talent. This statement can be defended with a definition of talent, the movie “Stand and Deliver” and the comparison of opportunities between developed and underdeveloped countries.
Talent is defined as “the natural ability to be superior in some quality”. Talent flourishes under a stable environment, with time to practice and perfect it. How can one have the time to polish their talent if they are under adversity- where they must spend their time worrying and working hard for the bare necessities? Although skills such as organization and responsibility can develop under tribulations, talents such as sports and arts can not be grown with such a situation. Talent is innate, and does not discriminate between the wealthy and the poor. The opportunity to have a chance to develop talents is what fosters its progress, not adversity.
For example, the movie “Stand and Deliver” projects this concept perfectly. Taking place in the ghetto of Los Angeles, Garfield High School was full of slacking, disinterested students. However, Jaime Escalante enters the school as a teacher and transforms these poverty-stricken kids into a class with a 100% pass rate in AP Calculus. The students in Garfield High did not have the chance to supplement their mathematical talents prior. Although each student went through adversity in the movie, they did not blossom in it until Jaime Escalante taught them. Escalante was the opportunity given to the students to illicit their talents. Without Escalante, the students would have continued disregarding their schoolwork and would have never discovered their aptitude for mathematics. Therefore, it is opportunity, not adversity that grows talents.
The idea that adversity doesn’t illicit talent can even be seen in a larger scale. If this statement was true, then underdeveloped, which has the largest amount of hardships, would also be the most talented. This is not the case, because top athletes, artists and geniuses also originate from industrialized nations who are prosperous in nature. However, every nation has a population that faces adversity, racially, economically or otherwise. For example, many Americans also face hardship. Although they are initially facing hard times, they are given more opportunities to escape it- such as sponsorships, scholarships and talent-seeking institutions. The poorest of Americans have more opportunities compared to an underdeveloped nation such as North Korea. Even though North Koreans face a staggering amount of hardship, there is no opportunity to develop a talent such as leadership to inspire change. Because of their adversity,their potential talent laid dormant in this unprosperous circumstance. Once again, it is opportunity that nurtures talent, not adversity.
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