Saturday, January 26, 2008


Where are all the truly great people in our world? I've been reflecting on the life of the Revered Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this week. I've been thinking about the virtuosity for which he is so known. He was a brilliant, powerful public figure who stood not for might and control, but for peace and justice. In a world where power is defined by one's ability to call the shots, Dr. King proved once and for all that life lived as example could motivate monumental change.

So I ask again, where are the truly great people in our world? I've heard it said that the constant media attention keeps anyone from appearing as saintly as Dr. King. Had he lived today, his faults and failings would have be exposed; we would not have seen him in the same light. I don't think that's true. We've recently learned some sad, yet incredible truths about the life of Mother Theresa that could potentially tarnish her legacy. I don't find this all that likely either. The sheer truth of the impact made upon this planet by those select individuals known, both formally and informally, as saints will outweigh any detractions we could ever discover. That is not to say that the ends justify the means in every instance, but that we will never cease to be amazed at the righteousness that can be wrought through the life of one committed, if flawed, individual.

But the question still remains, where are the truly great people in our world? In this age of increased globalization, in an era where the round world has suddenly become flat, in a time where people anywhere can communicate and collaborate with anyone on the planet, we may need to look at the work of great people in a different way. Perhaps the very scrutiny of society will force us to realize just how inadequate individuals are in the grand scheme of things. We are always amazed at the likes of Dr. King because we see ourselves as unprepared and unqualified to do anything of significance in this world of ours.

So to answer the question, the truly great people in our world are those around us. The age of great men (and women) is giving way to the age of great people. The time of one man making a difference has moved to a time where all of us must band together and take control of our world. It is no longer enough for us to sit back and support those natural leaders and innovators, leaving them to make all the difference. As this world becomes more and more a gigantic community, we must understand the increasing role we all play in the success of that community. We will continue to raise up those of us most able to articulate the message, but we must rely less on the profundity of their speech and more on the power of our reality. It takes not saints nor great men to make a difference; it takes those of us who care, united under the banner of peace and justice for all.

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