Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Have YOU Encouraged Someone Today?

It's startling how many great accomplishments have been spurred by the encouragement of a single person saying, "You can do it!"

Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang
I was struck again today reading an interview with the author Ji-li Jiang. She recalled a couple she knew at the time she first arrived in the US giving her a copy of The Diary of Ann Frank and writing inside, "We hope someday we will be able to read 'The Diary of Ji-li Jiang.'" The resulting book was Red Scarf Girl.

I've long been fascinated by the power of one book -- Uncle Tom's Cabin -- to change the course of US history. (See Creative Resistance 101: Uncle Tom's Cabin ) Part of the back story of that book is Harriet Beecher Stowe's sister-in-law saying, "...if I could use a pen as you can, Hatty, I would write something that would make this whole nation feel what an accursed thing slavery is." Look what she set in motion.

One of the architects I greatly admire is Sir Norman Foster - creator of buildings ranging from the futuristic Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank Building in Hong Kong to the renovated Reichstag in Berlin. There is an excellent documentary about Sir Norman's career, How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster? In it, he shares his recollection of beginning as a lowly clerk in the firm, John Bearshaw and Partners. Bearshaw himself took an interest in Foster and his first attempts at drawings, and encouraged him to stick with it.

Is it possible that the course of these lives wouldn't have been quite the same without that moment of encouragement? Have you experienced this in your own life?

So . . . have you encouraged someone today?

Related posts

Eventually, in large part due to Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, the United States was converted from a country in which a small number of people thought slavery needed to be ended into a country determined to act to end slavery. This literary work took the movement wide, and it took it deep.

Why is a novel an important tool for creative resistance?

(See Creative Resistance 101: Uncle Tom's Cabin )

 There are some people who say, "Why does it take the sacrifice of an American to get people to care about the many people who have died and suffered in Gaza and other parts of Palestine and Israel?"

(See Where were YOU on April 10, 1979?)

Ravi Shankar is a great example of someone bringing a special point of view to pierce the bubble of "normalcy" in which a vast number of people live, and to agitate for tectonic change.

(See Thanks, Ravi

Make no mistake: Sandy was a high-powered lawyer with a high-powered lobbying firm. In that setting, Sandy was a big mahoff. But what made him really big was his ability to help the rest of us have the confidence to raise our voices.

(See REMEMBERING SANDY: Samuel Berger, 1945-2015 )