Gaining Perspective from History

I have been reading a bit of history this summer.

One book, “Parting the Waters” by Taylor Branch, is a historical classic recounting the times of the Civil Rights fight in the late 50’s and 60’s. Figures such as Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson all play key roles as well as many more folks you probably haven’t heard about.

A second book, called “Game Change” by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, recounts the election of 2008 – the game changer being Barack Obama.

One of the virtues of taking in historical accounts like these is that you develop appreciation about the dynamics of great change, great accomplishment and great victory.

When we think of the Obama election in 2008, many of us remember the great election night celebration in Chicago. What a historic day! The energy in the air was palpable.

When you read the account of the election, you learn that the road to that event was not a steady ascension to a great day. There were many setbacks. There were weeks and months of bad days in the course of the election. There were times when it appeared that all was lost.

But, the team kept playing. A creative strategy was devised. The opponents made mistakes and the Obama team took advantage of it. Some players came up with extraordinary plays. And, in 2008, that was all rewarded with the victory.

The battle for Civil Rights was even more heated. As we know now, lives were lost in the battle for folks to sit where they want, to shop where they want, to be heard at the polls, to have access to equal education – you name it. It was a long battle. One that many thought couldn’t be won.

As we look at those events on a historical timeline, we note them and classify them as significant accomplishments. But, the ups and downs are skipped over.

These stories remind me that a day’s events – whether setbacks or leaps ahead – aren’t what defines things over time. It causes me to remember that the storms of the day are just a blip in time or a setback on our way to something else.

Those stories cause me to have a broader perspective. They cause me to have hope.



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Posted in: Inspiration, Motivation

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