Is it better to be interesting or useful?
The question puts forth before us a very interesting topic of discussion which is also very useful from a utilitarian point of view. It is useful to know the meaning of each term before proceeding to dwell on the topic. The term ‘interesting’ means something that is different that attracts and sustains our attention and then which makes our attention to continue or proceed towards it till the end. But an interesting thing need not necessarily be ‘useful’. When we proceed to define the term ‘useful’, it denotes the actual value and utility of a particular thing, which adds an element of permanence with it.
When an interesting thing is useful as well we will be doubly happy. A story or a novel may provide an interesting reading but may not be useful. It helps us to while away our time. To relax ourselves for sometime and makes us cheerful in the course of our reading. One may even ask when an interesting book helps us to while away our time and relax ourselves, is it not useful? The term ‘useful’ that we refer to is that we should gain something and learn something that is helpful to us in our day today life, that provides some permanent value in our life what we refer to as ‘useful’
When we apply the terms ‘interesting’ and ‘useful’ from a human point of view whether we should remain interesting or useful, we have to analyze it a little deeper.
History is replete with examples to show and differentiate between ‘interesting’ and ‘useful’.Let us take the case of books. There are millions of books in the world.All of them have been published just because they are interesting to read. But only a selective few are categorized and stand out in the category of literature. The works of Shakespeare have been classified into the category of literature, just because they not only provides interesting reading but they are immortal for their value and usefulness of embellishing and enriching the English language.
But the degree of usefulness may vary from person to person in the case of human beings. To remain useful to one self, remain useful to the self as well as the family, remain useful to the family as well as the society. Persons who are useful only to themselves are labeled as self centered or selfish. But those persons who remain useful to themselves and to their family and to the society as well are hailed and remembered by the humanity.
All human beings are born, grow, live and die. When we consider a few famous personalities who lived on this earth, why are they remembered? Why do they go down in history as immortal personalities? When we satisfactorily answer these questions we can come to a conclusion as to the question ‘Is it better to be interesting or useful?’
When we consider Mahatma Gandhi, he was a very simple man, a half-naked fakir, of course not an interesting personality. But his ways and means adopted by him in the freedom struggle with the main theme of passive resistance were very forceful and of course very useful that forced the British Empire to flee from India and thereby free India. Hence Mahatma Gandhi is passionately called the ‘The Father of India’
Abraham Lincoln, former US President, not an interesting personality by his looks, saved his country during the great civil war in the year 1865, by his great speeches, by his timely action of emancipation of slaves etc, which were considered very useful and great moves that helped his country to remain united.
Mother Teresa, so humble a woman and personality but not an interesting character or personality, went on to win the Nobel peace price, for her unflinching devotion and service to the poorest among the poor. In short she remained useful to the humanity until her last breath.
Therefore, from the above examples shown, we can very well conclude that it is no use of remaining just interesting, but our ultimate goal should be to remain useful. Hence,it is better to be useful than interesting.