I was talking with a friend last night about the old story that Hitler only turned to politics when he was denied admittance to art school. We wondered how the world might be different if only some art professor had been a little more enthusiastic about young Adolf's portfolio. After a little research, I discovered that many of the world's dictators and genocidal maniacs had a dream cruelly dashed before taking out their revenge on the world. A sampling:
Josef Stalin: Was a promising flautist before being demoted to second chair in the school orchestra and concluding that meritocracy sucked.
Pol Pot: Won championships at hundreds of quilting bees before his girlfriend left him over his obsession; soon decided that the arts were indulgent and vain.
Idi Amin: Enjoyed floral arrangement until he was drafted and subsequently ridiculed by his Army buddies; vowed revenge on everyone, saying "I'll eat your children!" decades before Mike Tyson did.
Benito Mussolini: Was an exceptionally emotive dancer until his career derailed when a late train caused him to miss an audition for the Bolshoi Ballet. A distraught Mussolini pledged to improve the efficiency of public services at any cost.
Kim Jong-Il: Harbored dreams of a career in the NBA; despite his outstanding defensive play, his diminutive stature limited his potential and he soon developed a Napoleon complex.