Sometimes it feels like you cannot have an impact on the problems you see around you. That feeling should not be listened to!
You, as an individual, can do so much to address the wrongs you recognize. Doubtful? That feeling of helplessness will lessen if you look to the lessons of the past.
Individuals like Benjamin Franklin, for example, should be studied. Was he perfect? Of course not; none of us are. However, one example that can inspire us never to give up is when Benjamin Franklin was 71 years old, he accepted a mission from a congressional committee at the onset of the American Revolutionary War to go to France and negotiate a firm alliance.
Franklin wasn’t in the best of health, and at 71 years of age, he wasn’t as fit as he once was, but he was successful in his mission. Franklin sought aid from France for the Freedom Cause, and he got it!
History is filled with examples of individuals who did not give in to feelings of helplessness when they believed in an ideal or mission. Let’s learn our history and let it inspire us.
At one time or another, most of us feel helpless. We can blame circumstances and tell ourselves that we alone cannot correct the course directed towards disaster. It may seem that excusing ourselves from reality is the easiest option. But history shows that neglect often leads to larger troubles. Problems left unchecked rarely remedy themselves.
That is where what I call our “Can-Do” spirit comes in. We all have the choice to listen to the voice that says we can make a difference. Sometimes all we need is a little encouragement to face the challenge.
Americans have traditionally been eager to take the lead when individualism was threatened or people were being persecuted. We used to find encouragement in movies and from speeches made by our political leaders.
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” and Ronald Reagan’s “We are indeed, and we are today, the last best hope of man on earth.” were words that rallied Americans.
Movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life”(1946) reminded Americans that we each have an impact on many other individuals. George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, had to be reminded of that by his guardian angel Clarence on Christmas Eve. George was so discouraged that he had decided to take his own life, but Clarence showed George that so many lives had been changed for the better because of him.
If George Bailey had never existed, his younger brother Harry would have died as a boy when he fell through the ice. Harry would never had gone on to save a ship full of U.S. troops in the Pacific as a fighter pilot during World War II. The lovely town of Bedford Falls, where George and his family and friends lived, would have fallen into the hands of greedy Henry F. Potter and become Pottersville, a sleazy, corrupt town.
George Bailey touched other lives in a positive way, and when he recognized that, he regained his Can-Do spirit. We all need some encouragement at times to boost our morale, so we feel capable of fulfilling our obligations and to find the strength deep down to embark on new but difficult voyages.
We can look for inspirational people of the past and present for that support. We can also be that inspiration to others through our words and actions.
Diana Erbio is a freelance writer and author of “Coming to America: A Girl Struggles to Find her Way in a New World”. Read her blog series “Statues: The People They Salute” and visit the Facebook Page.