December 30, 2003
greatness is possible
Finished the ten-hour HBO series, Band of Brothers tonight. I found it breathtaking, much like From the Earth to the Moon, also by Tom Hanks and HBO. Trust me, if you haven’t watched these yet, you’re missing out on some of the most engaging, exhilarating, and inspirational hours on film.
Both tell the story of a hard-won triumph. Both detail the human effort, the very personal sacrifices and challenges that collectively contributed to the outcome. As each episode ended, as the credits and the theme music ran, I’d get goosebumps every time. With each hour, I felt a sense of hope, a greater awareness of the possible.
We have greatness in us; there’s no denying it. I don’t care if you’re dodging bullets to bring bandages to someone screaming “medic”, or holding things steady as the lunar lander touches down, or showing a son where the secret stash of soda is while he waits with his mother in the cancer ward: greatness is possible.
Remembering this is the tough part. We’re so jaded, we’re so busy, we’re so overwhelmed by the ultimately inconsequential demands of the day. Thoreau wrote, “When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence, that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality.”
This makes me think of our new online medium. It seems so many blogs are hit-and-run at best: find something, link to it, write a sentence, move on. As I see it, we don’t need more, and more, and more, and more. We need deeper, we need thoughtful, we need useful, we need real.
Thoreau wrote, “Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, … , till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place, which we can call reality, and say, This is, and no mistake; and then begin.”
So here we are, downstream from the biggest hype in history, making quick comments on the ever quickening changes around, with difficult problems to solve, but only rare moments of the kind of realness he’s talking about. We need to dig deeper. It’s just too easy to simply skim the surface, which in the end, merely adds to the ever increasing noise.
What to do? Well, part of my answer is writing posts like this.
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