Saturday, February 21, 2015

Makers of History or Made by History

Yesterday when I was at the public library I saw a poster that stopped me and provoked me into thinking. Great posters, after all, are like great art. They uncover emotions, but most of all, questions that the viewer never realized he had.

On this particular poster was a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. from his 1963 Strength to Love writing:

We are not makers of history,
We are made by history.

I've always thought the other way around, that we, as in everyone, make history. Coaches say it when the team goes on the field, "Let's make history!" CEO's say it in daily meetings. Editors say it in newsrooms just before press time. Orators say it at graduations. Parents whisper it in the ears of the children as they go off into the world.

But stop. Rethink that. Maybe we are made by history. 

Maybe I agree.

All those many people I interviewed for this Pilot Mountain book and the Called to the Mountain book and the Wheels and Moonshine book and the baseball field book that has yet to be completed, and another one that I've started, all those people were definitely made by the history of whatever surrounded them. There is more, however, more to their lives than the past.

Maybe I would like to debate this poster.

The past is what sets up the life of the person born into the community and of those who move there. That I will concede. 

But stop.

There's a human element, free will, a most wonderful element that gives us our humanity. Each person I interviewed took the cards that were dealt them, and went out and made a difference in the world. I must remember that as I sit across the table and listen to their stories.

They had choices. We have choices. We can embrace what surrounds us, or we, like them, can rise above, move away, succumb to, or hide in fear from it all. Which a person chooses is what makes history.  

It also makes great story.

Catch of the day,


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