My dad recently told me, “Everyone wants to give the Gettysburg Address.”
I think what he meant by that is that everyone who cares wants to make an impact with what they do. And it’s not always about ego. Sometimes it’s about the sense that you could have influence over the world and future generations.
The next day at work, coincidentally, I was scanning a picture of the Lincoln Memorial. I also scanned pictures of cities and bridges and waterfalls.
I started to think about how I’m more like that waterfall than I am like Lincoln. Even Lincoln was not Lincoln. He was more like a sunrise that everyone was waiting for. It’s only now that he is a statue.
When I was a kid I used to think that I had to become someone of great influence like Lincoln or Martin Luther King. I had to shift tides and move mountains. I still think that sometimes. But that’s kind of a big trip to lay on myself.
That said, I still feel the pull of moral obligation to do something that matters.
Our world is now so interconnected that it’s hard for me to believe that it doesn’t matter much what choices I make. The world is at my finger tips and I can have a major impact with a single keystroke. Perhaps, oddly enough, even more so than Lincoln did. It matters what foods I choose to buy, who I vote for in the election, and what I do for a living. In the 21st century, one which will see 9 billion people building a global society, I cannot say that I’m just a regular guy doing his job and trying to make ends meet. I don’t get to say that. I’m too wealthy. Too lucky. I am responsible.
The Gettysburg Address is just words, the Lincoln Memorial just a statue. And I am just a man. But as I wake up in the morning, stumble into the kitchen to get coffee, put my pants on one leg at a time, brush my teeth and stare into the mirror, I’m failing to appreciate how significant I am. I am more powerful than I know.
I am not a statue. I am a waterfall.