Published continuously from 1732 to 1758, Poor Richard’s Almanack hit record press runs of up to 10,000 copies per year.
Success. I could watch LinkedIn’s Pulse stream all day and witness a zillion interpretations of how to be “healthy, wealthy, and wise.” (I chopped off “early to bed, early to rise” because we live a 24/7 day and “multitask” in fast-paced environments.) For the record, Benjamin Franklin lifted that line from somebody else who had borrowed it from somebody else. A persona created by Franklin uttered the words in Poor Richard’s Almanack.
Something else popped into my mind after I saw this hashtag trending earlier this month: #EncourageEveryoneIn4Words. Funny thing—the hashtag is five words. Twenty-five years ago, Spike Lee transformed a simple phrase into the seminal movie Do the Right Thing.
Sarah Larson (Culture Desk/The New Yorker) wrote a piece about its 25th anniversary screening last summer. She grabbed some memorable remarks, including those of actor Luis Ramos:
“. . . You’re forced to grow up with each other in New York City. And learn. . . You got your Puerto Ricans, your Koreans, and blacks, and Italians, and we’re all in this together—until we’re not. And that’s the legacy of ‘Do the Right Thing.’”
The world went wildly global years after the release of the movie. I will qualify Mr. Ramos’s remarks: Today there seems little room to escape one another. (I acknowledge that some people with good sense turn off technology while on vacation.)
This past January, Simon Kemp of the global social media agency We Are Social summarized their Digital, Social, and Mobile in 2015 report. The content is bold. It packs staggering statistics from more than 240 countries and profiles of the world’s top 30 economies.
The core milestones for 2014 state: 1) worldwide social media users exceeded 2 billion; 2) worldwide penetration of mobile phones passed 50%; 3) the number of global internet users rose to 3 billion; and 4) the number of active mobile connections surpassed the total world population.
The report suggests that this growth shows no signs of slowing.
A global economy and technology have opened the door to entrepreneurship, cultural exchange, sharing of information (it’s wise to vet it), and access to family, friends, and colleagues in far-flung lands. However, it also has spawned a non-objective 24-hour obsession—on the part of many “media” outlets and their followers—to promote brutality; greed; polarized communities; political imbalance; prejudice; unreasoned debate; world leaders who do not lead but squabble (preferring to pander to their base); uncivil remarks (“snarky”); “switchtasking”; red carpet moments; and Kim Kardashian’s next Instagram exposure. On both counts, one can add more to the lists.
First edition of the ongoing best seller Brave New World (fair use)
Do individual acts of kindness based on a moral code go unnoticed? Are they random?
I ponder the meaning of it all, stuck in my oscillation between the title of a famous novel and a quotation that has not died.
1) Aldous Huxley underpinned the dark Brave New World with this ironic twist on one of Shakespeare’s characters, naïve Miranda in The Tempest, who cries:
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t!
(Shakespeare seemed to be onto his own ironic twist.)
2) “It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. I simply can’t build my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery, and death. I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that this cruelty too shall end and that peace & tranquility will return once again.”—Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (Since 1947, the book has sold over 30 million copies translated into 67 languages.)
In addition, I ponder a fascinating question once posed in an interview: “How will your epitaph read?”
Since I prefer cremation, my epitaph will go up in smoke. Will it show up for a moment on a Twitter feed? It certainly will not be “the best #entrepreneur ever.” I applaud many successful entrepreneurs who run exciting businesses while following a moral code. I happen to be a worker bee. There is room for everyone.
Will my epitaph matter in a nano-flash?
Just for fun, let’s give it a go:
“She tried to ‘do the right thing’ for faith, family, friends, communities despite her imperfect humanity. #EncourageEveryoneIn4Words”
Monument in the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery at the University of North Carolina (Catherine Hamrick)