Gordon Mercer and Marcia Mercer Global Digital Post: “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” David Brinkley
Franklin, NC -- (ReleaseWire) -- 02/15/2011 -- David Brinkley was most noted for co-hosting the Huntley-Brinkley Report on NBC and as a news commentator for NBC and ABC. He began his career as a high school student reporter for the “Wilmington Star” and later attended University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His career spanned over 50 years and is summarized in the title of his memoir: “David Brinkley: 11 Presidents, 4 Wars, 22 Political Conventions, 1 Moon Landing, 3 Assassinations, 2,000 Weeks of News and Other Stuff on Television and 18 Years of Growing Up in North Carolina.” His quote on success in life is possibly not the way we typically view the road to success.
Let’s think about this quote on several levels. If you stand for anything in life and especially if you challenge the way things are done, a few proverbial bricks may be thrown you way. In the early 1900’s Albert Einstein challenged major assumptions of science with his theories of relativity and his new theory of gravity and quantum theory. When he gave public lectures on his findings in Germany, hecklers tried to shout him down; prominent scientists accused him of plagiarism and hurled anti-Semitic slurs. He was accused of un-German Science. Einstein was vindicated with the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. He stood firm in his new scientific theories in the face of the many bricks thrown at him.
A second way of dealing with proverbial bricks thrown our way is to learn from them and build a firm foundation. Thomas Jefferson was nearly impeached as Governor of Virginia. During the American Revolution, British troops made an attack on Charlottesville, Virginia and the Virginia Legislature barely escaped. Many wanted to establish a dictatorship to deal with the crisis but Jefferson argued vehemently and successfully for democracy to prevail. He had learned that liberty is fragile in crisis. Later Jefferson fought for a Bill of Rights as the cornerstone of our American Democracy. Jefferson learned from the attacks and criticism. Critics can seldom defeat us if we are willing to get back up, and, we usually emerge stronger.
We also learn to persevere from painful experiences or the bricks we have to step around or remove along the way. President Lincoln over came more obstacles than most political leaders. He was defeated once for the U.S. Congress, twice for the U. S. Senate, and once failed to gain the nomination for U. S. Vice-President before being elected U. S. President. The Civil War was a difficult painful war with more than a few bricks thrown and Lincoln was not a popular leader as the Civil War was fought. Through his leadership and perseverance the United States was preserved and slavery ended.
Lincoln’s assassination was painful in the South as well as the North. Lincoln fought for a just and non-vindictive conclusion to the war, a belief not always shared by those around him. Few would have been able to withstand the criticism he endured to preserve the United States. Historians today rank him as the best U. S. President our nation has ever had in U. S. Presidential rankings.
Bricks are a part of life. Whether we build on them or not determines our future. Gordon’s father was not inclined to give a lot of advice, thinking it wiser to let his children learn on their own. Occasionally, however, he would philosophize. “Son, in life, if somebody isn’t criticizing you, you aren’t doing very much.”
When we think of the people we admire, those who have made a positive difference in the lives of others and perhaps shaped history, we note that they are standing on a firm foundation. Standing up for our ideas and beliefs and learning from criticism are positive responses. It takes courage but those bricks thrown at us can help us build a successful foundation.
Gordon Mercer is international president of the Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society and a professor of political science at Western Carolina University (WCU). He holds a Ph.D. degree in organizational development, founded the Public Policy Institute at WCU in 1999, and has held the position of associate dean of research and graduate studies at the university. Marcia Mercer is a writer and published columnist with the Franklin Press. Go to http://9955.hostednr.com to get to our Global Digital Post Press Room. Views expressed in this column are the views of the authors and do not reflect the views of other organizations.