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Interesting People

Welcome to the Interesting People Web site. To read about a person, click on a name or picture.

From time to time, I add more people to the site, so please check back when you get a chance.

Abraham Lincoln
Martha Stewart
Mohandas Gandhi
Genghis Kahn
Ralph Nader
Karl Marx
Martin Luther King Jr.
Adolf Hitler

Aside from the essays you will find on this site, I have written about many more interesting people, musicians, sports heroes, entertainers, historical figures, scientists, philosophers, and so on.

To read about all these people, and to find lots of Internet resources to explore, please visit my special site, Harley Hahn's Internet Yellow Pages:

Interesting people in Harley Hahn's
Internet Yellow Pages

What Makes a Person Interesting?

An interesting person is one whose life is worth studying for three reasons. First, the person is someone we recognize, someone whose contributions — for better or for worse — have had a significant effect on our culture. If we are part of a culture that recognizes such people, we should know something about them.

Second, interesting people intrigue us. We know their names and we wonder about them, so it makes sense to spend a few minutes leaning about them just to satisfy our curiosity.

Finally, interesting people are important to study because doing so has a positive effect on our own lives. When we learn about people whose humility and strength allow them to become truly great, we are inspired to develop greatness in ourselves. When we learn about people whose arrogance and weakness causes their own downfall (not to mention a great deal of human suffering), it helps us to understand our own faults and, indirectly, to live our lives as well as we can.

There are, of course, many, many well-known men and women we can study. I have chosen certain people because they interest me, and because I feel that who they are and what they have to teach us is often misunderstood and unappreciated.

While I was preparing this page, I was talking to my sister Melissa who asked, "Why study Hitler?"; the implication being that Hitler was so evil and caused so much trouble that there was no point in glorifying him by taking the time to learn about his life.

Let me ask you, in all your experience in life, have you ever encountered anyone with the name Hitler? My guess is you can live a good long time and travel the world, and you will never meet a James Hitler or a Mary Hitler. Even saying the names out loud seems loathsome.

So think about that. Here is someone who is considered so infamous that, well over a half century after his death, his name — as a name — has simply vanished from the world. Indeed, just referring to someone as a "Hitler" is considered to be a particularly opprobrious insult. Doesn't it make sense that, if someone can have such a lasting effect on our culture, we should at least know a bit about who he was, what he did, and how he was able to do it?

In the opposite direction, we have all heard of Gandhi, but how many of us can say what he did that was so important? We all have the feeling that Gandhi was a great man, but do we know why? And, if learning about Hitler can help us understand our own weaknesses, how much better off would we be to study a truly great man whose life might inspire us directly?

You might think that, in the broadest sense, people like Hitler are very special. What is fascinating is that, Hitler was not very special at all. As you will see when you read about him, he was intelligent, determined, a good organizer and a superb speaker. Most of all, he had a burning desire to be a dictator and to conquer as much of the world as he could. However, Hitler was not special in the sense that he was unique; there are many Hitler-like people in the world. Every country, every culture, perhaps every organization has always had such people. (Look around you, and you will see what I mean.)

Gandhi, on the other hand was unique. Read and research history for as long as you want, read the newspapers every day of your life, and you will find no one else like Gandhi.

Strange as it seems, that is the general rule: goodness is expressed in unique ways, evil is not only commonplace, but common.

But why should this be the case? How is it that, in the course of human events, a Gandhi should appear? And why is it that, out of all the would-be tyrants in the world, Adolf Hitler became the most successful dictator in history?

These questions — and many more like them — are difficult to answer, and yet they are worth asking. And that, perhaps, is the most important reason to study the lives of interesting people: to allow ourselves to become curious about those human beings who are so influential as to insinuate themselves into our consciousness, and to ask the sorts of questions that help us define, collectivity and personally, who we are and why.

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