John R. Eggers: Thoughts on the question: What more can you do?
Would you like your computer to be super fast? Google is about to come out with a higher speed version that is one hundred times faster than the Google version you currently use.
How fast would that be? For the amount of time it took you took to read the first two sentences of this column it would be equivalent to just saying the word “wow.”
What Google did and what the computer related industry has been doing for the past several decades is to ask themselves, “Can we do more?” And, do you know what? They have been doing more.
Remember the ending to the movie “Schindler’s List” where Oscar Schindler said to his Jewish workers, “I could have done more.” He was referring to spending more of his wealth to buy off more German officers to provide more Jewish help for his factory thereby saving more lives.
This country is faced with a gun control issue. Regardless of which side of the aisle you are on, you have to admit more can be done to stop these mass shootings. Since John Lennon was killed in 1980 more than 1 million and 57 thousand people have been killed by guns in the United States. Asking the question, “What more can we do?” seems kind of ridiculous, kind of absurd. Of course we can and have to do more.
The same is true with environmental issues, peace initiatives, climate change, agriculture and medicine — more can be done. That’s true but what’s the point?
Take a look around. The world today isn’t exactly, as they say, “heaven on earth.” So many things need fixing not only in our personal lives but also with just the overall scheme of things.
I think about my parents and grandparents. I can’t imagine them doing anything more to make life easier for their children and grandchildren. If you were to ask them, however, I’m sure they could think of lots of things. I don’t know what my children would say, but I could have done much more to make their lives easier.
I wonder how people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would answer the question, “What more could you have done?” I’m sure he would have responded, “Lots more.”
How is it possible to do more than what we are doing? Maybe these ideas will help.
One of my favorite people, Helen Keller said: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” She also said: “We can do anything we want to if we stick to it long enough.”
If you really believe in something and stick to it and be relentless and persistent about it as well as ask for help, you will do more. That’s almost a guarantee. It’s a done deal.
Fred Rogers was a Presbyterian minister and host of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” He said, “At the center of the Universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and that wants the best for every person. Anything that we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job.”
Wow, Mister Rogers knew what he was talking about. He’s suggesting that it is our job to try to do more to help ourselves and others grow. He sure helped a lot of little folks grow.
So often what we want to do seems overwhelming. Former President Calvin Coolidge has an answer for us. “We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once.”
Okay, so you can’t do it all and maybe your big goal can’t be accomplished by just you alone but you can do something. What is it that you can do? What are the small steps that can be taken, which will result in a big leap?
Much of what we need to do involves others. We know we can do more when others are working with us to do more. But what if times get tough and we see little hope? Radio preacher Charles Swindoll reminds us that “We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.”
So that’s it. What do you really believe in? What do you want to accomplish? Maybe it feels like you are the only one left in a gigantic hole. Are you going to give up or keep trying to climb out? The answer lies in our attitude. It always has and it always will.
Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of England, Roger Ebert, famed movie critic, and Annette Funicello, from the Mickey Mouse Club and 1950’s teen idol, all died recently. All were famous, all did great things and I’m sure each would say, “I could have done more.” All seemed to have the right attitude about doing more.
As we challenge ourselves to do more what is the one thing besides having the right attitude that will make the difference? Aviator Amelia Earhart knew. “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”
Google is acting to do more faster. The rest of us need to be just as quick.
— John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.