Monday, August 29, 2011

One of my favorite authors has come to be Robert Fulghum (pronounced Full-jum). His first book, Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, was a best seller. He has written other best sellers since. His books are collections of short pieces, usually quite amusing but almost always containing a serious lesson on life. One of them, Maybe (Maybe Not), I am reading now. In it, there is a story that especially impressed me. I do not want to go into the details of the story. That’s not necessary, for the last two lines are what made the story stand out for me. Those lines are in the form of questions:

Is it always to be a winners-losers world, or can we keep everyone in the game?

Do we still have what it takes to find a better way?

Those words were especially meaningful to me because for a long period of time I have been asking myself that question “Can’t I find a better way?” My question to myself was not about any particular thing. In fact, I wasn’t sure exactly why I was asking it. It was more an expression of the frustration I feel at all the inequities I observe in life and the seeming inability of our nation (and humanity in general) to find a solution to our problems. Fulghum reminded me that throughout history, through all the dark times that have beset mankind, there have always been those who have persevered, have clung to ideals and visions and who have, somehow, brought an end to dark times and seen light brighten the world.

In his article Fulghum also brought out the fact that, in the final essence, it was humanity itself that brought the change about. It did not depend on new technologies, new techniques or new knowledge. It did not depend on a particular individual. It was an awareness—the awareness of simple, common people realizing that there was a “better way” and having the courage to embrace it. It was common people depending on the only thing they really had to work with, the only thing they could really depend on, and that was themselves.

Humanity has not changed. We still have difficulties; we still have problems. But our problems are no more insoluble than they ever were. And as an asset we have the one thing that is the most valuable of all—we have ourselves.

I believe all great changes are brought about in this way—by mankind simply deciding that it must be done.. And, as Fulghum points out, this is not new or unique. It has been done that way in the past by people no different than we are. And the answer to Fulghum’s question should be, and is “Yes, we still do have what it takes to find that better way.”

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