Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.
– Robert Kennedy
[par-uh-dahym, -dim] [shift]
- a radical change in underlying beliefs or theory
Most of us go through our lives barely realizing we walk in the shadow of greatness and stand on the shoulders of giants. Not having been part of their triumphs and unable to comprehend their sheer magnitude we unintentionally pay lip service to their accomplishments and actions.
It is doubtful, at the time, they saw themselves as movers and shakers, as a dawning hope or renewed faith. And it is even less likely they thought to themselves, “Someday people will look back at this moment and see the world change because of me.”
Change, in science or belief, can strike light lightning or take years, decades or centuries to come to fruition. But there is always a catalyst, a person, or group of people, who reach for the stars and stand tall among them.
Whether a scientist discovering a cure for a life threatening or debilitating disease or a leader of the people changing beliefs and perceptions through nonviolence, these titans alter the very fabric of history. And we can honor them in more than name by learning from their example and understanding the long road down which they walked to achieve their goals. We can respect their dedication and sacrifice by learning, growing and living new experiences.
According to w2wlink.com there are 10 ways to honor self greatness. In turn they work just as well in honoring the giants who changed our history. These are the very things so many of them found within themselves.
Take Responsibility – Circumstances often choose us, but it is our choice how to respond.
Live With Integrity – Do what is right, not what is expedient.
Dream Bigger – We will never know what we can achieve unless we dream big.
Be Who You Are – Be “you” with everybody. Our individual uniqueness is what defines us.
Speak Up – We each have a voice, use it. It will keep our relationships open and undiminished.
Take New Actions – We can dream bigger, but without taking action nothing will be accomplished.
Persevere in Adversity – Do not give in to despair. Failure and setback are learning experiences and make us stronger.
Say No – Look at the big picture. Saying yes may be easier, but with all the directions people are pulling us, saying no may be the next step down the path to our bigger dream.
Open Your Heart Fully – Life is a learning experience, both good and bad. If we close ourselves off to the pain we also close ourselves off to the joy, thus we lose a lot of what, in the long run, gives us strength.
Let Go – Live in the present. Learn from past mistakes but let them go.
From medicine to science, collective reasoning to raw acts of courage, giants have walked and still walk among us. We can learn from them and take that greatness forward to the next plateau and beyond by honoring them and what they fought for. Or, we can infer from their achievements what we believe we know or can do better without the discipline of their learnings and race forward with blithe ignorance to achieve our own ends.
Right or wrong, the choice is ours. We are not, as so many say, a herd of sheep. We are sentient, thinking beings who are “capable of such beautiful dreams and such horrible nightmares” (Contact).
We can be great, whether quietly behind the scenes or at the forefront of a paradigm shift. But we must set our own feet to the path, and right or wrong, it is our decision whether we honor the giants who have altered for all time the history, not just of a people, but of nations and even the entire world.
Some Notable Names*
Julia Carolyn Child (1912-2004) – American chef, author, and television personality recognized for bringing French cuisine to the American public with her debut cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Marie Skłodowska-Curie (1867-1934) – Naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) – Italian polymath, painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer.
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) – Developed the theory of evolution.
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) – American Baptist minister, activist, humanitarian and a non-violent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement.
John Ono Lennon (1940-1980) – English musician, singer and songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as a founding member of the rock band the Beatles.
Mother Teresa (1910-1997) – Roman Catholic sister and missionary who lived most of her life in India while serving the poor.
Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) – English mathematician and scientist who discovered gravity.
Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (1913-2005) – Civil Rights activist whom the United States Congress called “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement.”
Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson (1919-1972) – First African American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era.
Irena Sendler (1910-2008) – head of the children’s section of Żegota, an underground resistance organization, saved 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto.
Notes: Throughout history, both well known and somewhat obscure, there are far too many notable giants. The above is just a very small list and each has a very interesting history.