What is Alpha
Alpha, the first letter of the Greek alphabet, derives etymologically from the Phoenician and ancient Hebrew languages. Because it appears at the beginning of the sequence of letters, it is often used to indicate a starting point (for example, an initial draft of a legal contract, or Jesus proclaiming that he was the “Alpha and Omega,” the beginning and the end of all things). It also denotes dominance or leadership; for example, in biology one refers to the controlling male in a group as the “alpha male.”
Over time, and especially since the scientific revolution of the modern age in general, and the Darwinist theory in particular, alpha, or the desire to be first, has taken on a survivalist, or even an existential, interpretation. The first to survive may not necessarily be the strongest (although this is sometimes the case); rather, it is generally the one born with the greatest ability to adapt to its surroundings. Although Darwinism began as a biological theory, by the second half of the 19th century it had been transformed into a social and political theory, one that promoted the idea of being first as a desirable trait, possessed only by “healthy” nations, whose chances of winning the existential war between peoples were particularly high.
In the 20th century, the idea of being alpha – that is, first – also took on strongly individualistic interpretations. With the spread of capitalism, which fostered competition and self-interest, the desire to “win,” that is, to earn more, and faster, became the most important thing, and the means of measuring our success as individuals.
In financial, social or academic activity, it became clear, therefore, that in order to be first, one had to aspire to excellence, based equally on groundbreaking innovation, hard work, perseverance, and enthusiasm for learning. Can one conceive of the history of science without the “alphas” who, over the centuries, helped it take major leaps forward? Would there have been a scientific revolution without Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, or Newton? Would there have been a science of genetics without Mendel’s experiments with peas? Astronomy without Kepler or Hubble? Physics without Einstein or Niels Bohr?
To be an “alpha” means to lead; to be prepared, at times, to pay a social price for truth without compromise; to make decisions that may not necessarily be understood or accepted by others. Going “against the flow” is always difficult and challenging; this is certainly the case for young people, for whom that which is customary is often perceived as the only possible choice. Alpha will be the place to show that it is possible to choose otherwise.