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In the Century Magazine version of Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson, the second chapter gives an account of how the hero of the story comes to invent fingerprinting through an experimental pastime. This version of the novel was published, in serial form, from December 1893 to June of 1894 and therefore was anachronistic by nature since the discovery was widely published by Sir Francis Galton in the 1892 book Fingerprints in which he sited a University of Breslau thesis dated 1823.
The interesting part of this is not that Mark Twain’s idea was unique; it wasn’t. What he did by writing about it in fictional form was to give the professional practice of fingerprinting some credibility and widespread acceptance. That, my friends, is the power of a story. Nathaniel West said it best by stating that ,"fiction reveals truths that reality obscures."
If we apply that to people by general principle then we begin to see that our uniqueness is not due only to some biological phenomenon we may not understand but simply by the fact that we have a genuine nature which reveals itself in our honesty and by amplifying our particular individual viewpoint. It is not only our faces which show our differences but our independent minds and thoughts.
Unfortunately, mankind as a whole -in the classroom, at jobs and in public forums- is discouraged or shunned for dissidence or differentiation of opinion. I have seen people shamed or bullied, in many cases, into adopting public opinion as if the person were only being contrary- not exercising their right to have an opinion which contradicts the majority. However, our ability to think for ourselves and independently is our distinction from mere homo sapiens and according to the bible is one of the traits which we share with God.
(Isaiah 55:8 & 9)
When I think about human uniqueness it helps to remind myself that we are not meant to follow always, but to lead with confidence in our own area of knowledge, expertise or talent. We all possess something within ourselves that no other person contains and I believe that God made us that way for a good reason. Perhaps it was his greatest gift to us. Each one of us is a work of art and we have a chance to help form it. This can only happen when we open up to ourselves and examine what we see. People often hide from themselves- not just other people. The practice of busy-ness is most often to avoid introspection. Independence can be frightening and lonely for awhile but it isn’t forever. It’s how we become a leader and make a true mark in this world.
Becoming yourself is about stopping and taking a good, long, honest look at yourself and seeing the beauty within. You can make it and help others make it along the way and if you wonder if you changed anybody’s life you can always take a good look around you- ye shall know them by their fingerprints !
The Castle Lady