Although we know the meaning of this phrase:
Literally to be taller than all the rest, or figuratively to be better than someone or something else, we don’t really give it much thought.
However, coming across one sunflower plant that was truly head, shoulders and then a bit above the rest of the field, it got me wondering: firstly how this one plant got to be so much taller, secondly why?
It didn’t get any more sun, rain or fertilizers (hopefully none of the field got those), nor was it genetically modified (how could they treat just one seed then drop it in the middle of the field?) so what allowed this one plant to grow taller?
Of course that led to the parallel thought of why do certain people turn out to be figuratively “head and shoulders above the crowd”? Physically taller, it’s probably genetics, a good diet and factors over which we have some control (i.e. tall parents are more likely to have tall children, well fed children are likely to also have less hindrances to growing taller, etc.). But “morally” superior?
I won’t debate the “is it nature”, “is it nurture” theme.
However, as physically taller persons can perhaps see more of what’s happening and can make better decisions on their surroundings and anything taking place in those surroundings (i.e. it's the taller person who will see the speeding car in a crowd), so can the morally, ethically or intellectually gifted persons lead us in ways that will either help us avoid problems, pain and sorrows or assist us in fulfilling our goals. I believe that they then have an obligation to do so.
Standing head and shoulders above the crowd may seem positive, however, it comes with the necessity to lead in such a manner as to not become a negative.