Essay: Accomplishing the Impossible

Martin Luther King Jr. used four simple words to convey an idea that brought together generations, history, races, cultures, and more: “I have a dream…” (Martin Luther King 17). He dreamt of a utopian society just like the Wright brothers dreamt of a way into the sky. Just like Michael Jordan dreamt of becoming a widely known basketball player. Just like Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay dreamt of scaling the legendary Mount Everest and their joyous reception with their families. These people had great visions of what they could do, and all of the dreams required breaking boundaries put into place by society. In particular, humans who thought outside the box, and continue to do so, will accomplish what many have accepted as impossible.

History tells of many accounts where ordinary citizens have changed laws and climbed obstacles taller than their eyes could see. Of course, some people may say that laws were put into place to protect the citizens of a country. They may even further establish their point by stating that failures of people should stop anyone else from trying to conquer these same tasks. However, there are hundreds of historical events that illustrate these ideas as falsehoods. In fact, Jim Crow laws once held back the African-Americans from progressing their society forwards, but through the Civil Rights movement they broke the barriers and re-invented society. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and many others worked in various ways to peacefully demonstrate their grievances with the government. In fact, they did not break laws, but rather helped change the unconstitutional ones in a way the Constitution of the United States allows. The First Amendment in the Bill of Rights specifically states their rights to do so: “…or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” (First Amendment) Many African-Americans may not have been fully educated, or even aware of their rights. As a race, however, they persevered and overcame the obstacles that were put in the way. Rosa Parks sat on a bus and refused to move for a white man, when the Jim Crow laws stated that she would be forced to move for the superior white race. Her silent protest was one that sparked the Civil Rights movement to become the bigger flame that it is now known for (Alvah). The movement as a whole illustrates persevering to overcome previous failures, or in this case, not being heard. If a few courageous and daring people had not been willing to push the boundaries of society, then today in America its citizens would not have the same constitutional rights. Through breaking boundaries and changing laws humans have reinvented societies year after year and should continue to do so in order to persevere towards a better world.

Furthermore, many failures throughout history have made inventors think “outside-the-box” and succeed with the very same idea that another inventor had failed at. For example, the Wright brothers saw Otto Lilienthal fail with his attempt at flight with the glider crash. Rather than have them break their dreams of one day flying, they looked at their predecessor’s mistakes and learned from them. Many parents have told their children to learn from their mistakes, and from others’ mistakes, and Orville and Wilbur Wright took it to heart. They observed the birds around them, they looked at toy whirligigs, and they looked at the blueprints for other attempted airplanes and based their first airplane, initially, off of those. The failures of the past did not deter them from the path that they had chosen. The brothers saw that their hard work would push society forward, and they were right (The Wright Brothers). Their invention brought the world together with travel, commerce, and military. Humankind has a similar drive as the Wright brothers showed, and humans continue to work and reinvent the airplane to perfect the needs of what is necessary at a moment in time. If the Wright brothers did not invent the airplane, someone else might have. If inventors had seen their predecessor’s failures and did not try themselves to invent, society would have been stunted in its growth by quite a few years. By allowing for inventors to think “outside-the-box”, humans are helping move society forward and move each individual person forward in their creative ways.

Additionally, failures by regular, individual people should not stop others from trying to try over and over again to succeed. The person could be the next iconic basketball star. They could cure cancer. Perhaps they could even scale Mount Everest. Imagine, for example, if Michael Jordan never listened to his mother’s advice to keep trying to shoot hoops; basketball fans would never have realized the great potential the sport had. He might have become a lawyer or even a grocery clerk. The great Michael Jordan could have become “Michael Jordan from across the street”. “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed,” Michael Jordan said. This quote is popular with coaches and teachers trying to tell their students that even the “greatest” make mistakes.  Sir Edmund Hillary, one of two of the first successful Mount Everest climbers, even failed at things he tried in life, according to Stewart Forsyth, Director of FX Consultants and specialist in productivity improvement (Failure is part of learning to succeed). Hillary and Shirpa Tenzing Norgay set out to succeed in what many of their fellow adventurers failed to do: scale to the top of Mount Everest and live to tell the t. They did not let the past fails stop them, but rather teach them. Hillary even stated in a TIME magazine article, from May of 2015, that, “Getting to the bottom is an important part too.” The iconic duo’s journey to the summit of Mount Everest might not have been an opportunity for them. They were the second choice out of their caravan to climb to the summit; the first team almost ran out of oxygen on the way up, so they had to come back down to the group. When Tenzing and Hillary heard that it was their turn to go to the summit, they learned from the previous group’s try, and adjusted what they needed to do. Hillary was even knighted for his accomplishment; something he learned when on the trip back to the ground (Latson). Many non-adventurers may have called them crazy to attempt this trip that had caused so many past deaths, but they did so anyways. The duo thought “outside-the-box” and succeeded. Like many history changers before them they pushed themselves to their limits and changed how society viewed something.

From beginning to end accomplishments have changed laws, and will continue to do so. What was once thought impossible changed to possible, and how humans viewed the future also shifted. Once again, many believe that laws were put into place to protect the citizens of a country, but imagine if the laws were put into place to challenge people to push the limits. Failures of individual people, even governments, cannot stop others to accomplish what others cannot. The Civil Rights movement, the Wright brothers, Michael Jordan, and the Everest climbers proved with just a few events that failures and laws cannot hold back those who think “outside-the-box” of society’s rules. In the future, humans will continue the trend and further push society forward with new discoveries, inventions, and accomplishments. People may tell themselves that they are not good at something they failed at and move along. The person that changes society is the one who sees what they failed at and pushes society to learn from their mistakes.

Works Cited

Alvah, Donna. “Civil Rights Movement.” Dictionary of American History. Ed. Stanley I. Kutler.

3rd ed. Vol. 2. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003. 200-206. Student Resources in \    Context. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

“Failure is part of learning to succeed.” New Zealand Herald [Auckland, New Zealand]

18 Feb. 2008: 1.Student Resources in Context. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

“First Amendment.” LII / Legal Information Institute. Cornell University Law School, n.d. Web.

16 Nov. 2015. <https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment>.

Latson, Jennifer. “The Low-Profile Pair Who Conquered Everest.” Time. Time, 29 May 2015.

Web. 16 Nov. 2015. <http://time.com/3891554/hillary-norgay-everest-history/>.

“Martin Luther King I Have a Dream Speech – American Rhetoric.” Martin Luther King I Have a

Dream Speech – American Rhetoric. American Rhetoric, n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2015. <http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm>.

Roberts, David. “Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay – 1953 Everest.” National

Geographic. National Geographic Adventure, Apr. 2003. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

<http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/everest/sir-edmund-hillary-tenzing-norgay-1953/#page=2>.

The Wright Brothers.” World of Invention. Gale, 2006. Student Resources in Context. Web.

17 Nov. 2015.

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One thought on “Essay: Accomplishing the Impossible

  1. Pingback: July Wrap-Up | A Writer Named Charley

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