Saturday, February 18, 2012

The wisdom of Margaret Mead

“Never doubt that a small dedicated group of people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead (1901-1978)

Margaret Mead was an American cultural anthropologist who first made her mark with work among adolescent girls on the island of Samoa. (The quality of her professional work was called into question later her life, and her critics were later challenged, but that's a different story ….)

My sister passed this quote on to me. I tend to be a visceral optimist when I open my eyes in the morning and so I really liked the first part of the statement, it rings true for me that a few people can move the needle for their community, their town, their country, and even the world…..and then reality checks in for me, namely, the world-changing energy isn't always for the good, maybe most of the time it isn't for the betterment of all or even for many…..

In any event, be on the lookout for large groups of dedicated people who want to eat your lunch or take over your traditional hunting grounds or drown the world in toxic sub-prime mortgage loans….

Doesn't stop me from feeling good about the good that a "small dedicated group" can do….

A small tidbit for you language lovers out there:

I did a quick online check and found no less than four versions of the quote from Mead, here are the other three:

"A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

"Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have."

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Several different flavors that broaden the scope of the Mead's optimism about the power of a few working together, it doesn't take all that much to get to the "tipping point."

And finally, in my mind this topper from dear Margaret is a reason for investing some energy in the belief that the many or the few can change the world:

"We have nowhere else to go... this is all we have."
Margaret Mead

I like these bons mots from Chief Joseph

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