KOLOT — The Long and the Short of It

Charlotte Berman and a taller friend, Remy Katz.

Charlotte Berman and a taller friend, Remy Katz.

By Charlotte “Blu” Berman


Can short people rule the world, or at least think they can?  History has shown that many of these people have left an indelible mark on history for a variety of reasons.

Being a woman of short stature (was 5’2”, now, 4’10”,) I sometimes am overlooked in stores with high counters, and find it impossible to reach items on top shelves in the market. I must wait for a tall man or woman to come along and help me out. This makes me feel, (a) invisible and (b) like one of the Munchkins in “The Wizard of Oz.” While nursing feelings of inadequacy, I recently delved into the history of people who were short of stature and in many cases “shook the world.”

Take our fourth president, James Madison. He stood tall in history as one of our founding fathers. He helped to reorganize the federal government with George Washington, who towered above him at more than six feet. Did Madison feel inferior just because he was 5’4”? I doubt it. He acted with command and confidence, and from historical writings, had a powerful presence about him.

From a little man like the mighty Mahatma Ghandi, at 5’3” who appeared in vast crowds  of  devotees, in nothing but a large white loin cloth, his non-violent philosophy of perseverance and patience helped to make India a free nation. And that was no small matter.

Joining the “movers and shakers” in history, the iconic French writer and philosopher Voltaire, all 5’3” of him, influenced ideas that led to the French and American Revolutions.

When you think of the artist and sculptor Pablo Picasso, you probably think of a person of great strength and power, except in his “Blue Period.” His world famous painting “Guernica” and other classic works overarch his 5’4” height.

Napoleon Bonaparte was a “shorty.” He thought so much of himself, he dubbed himself “Emperor,” as his armies and armadas conquered thousands of warriors massed against him. Subsequently, many persons, both male and female, have been tarred with the appellation of having “a Napoleonic complex”.

And the genius comedian, star and film director Charlie Chaplin at 5’5” left his brilliant reputation on the firmament of show business forever.

On the other hand, so many of our presidents have been men of at least six feet in height, including our present commander in chief. His predecessor, George W. Bush, hit that height, as did the impressive Lyndon Baines Johnson. Does that preclude a United States president who is on the short side? It might seem that way. But is that fair to those of lesser stature? Not only does the word “stature” mean height, but also the level of attainment as worthy of esteem.

So, to those who are, like myself, petite, pequena, condensed, or concise, of height, I say, “take heart;” it is not how high you can reach, but how far-reaching you can be in this world in whatever you choose to accomplish.


Charlotte “Blu” Berman is a freelance writer living in West Hartford.


Readers are invited to submit original work on a topic of their choosing to Kolot. Submissions should be sent to judiej@jewishledger.com.





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