“Were it not for the nonconformist, he who refuses to be satisfied to go along with the continuance of things as they are and insists upon attempting to find new ways of bettering things, the world would have known little progress indeed” (Josiah William Gitt).
COMMITTING OURSELVES TO CONSTANT PROGRESS IS ONE OF THE BEST GIFTS WE CAN GIVE TO THOSE WHOM WE LOVE. Right now, not a one of us is everything we ought to be, and our loved ones suffer, to some extent, from our shortcomings. They would be delighted to see day-to-day evidence that we’re making progress in becoming the persons that we’re capable of being. But not only that, they’d be delighted to see evidence of a commitment on our part to make everything we touch at least a little better, if we possibly can.
A commitment to progress involves a certain amount of risk, however. It will probably make us somewhat of a nonconformist. As Josiah William Gitt notes, little progress would have been made in the world up to now if it weren’t for that out-of-step fellow who “refuses to be satisfied to go along with the continuance of things as they are and insists upon attempting to find new ways of bettering things.” If all we want is comfort and familiarity, progress will probably not be the result of our efforts. “Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first” (Frederick B. Wilcox).
When it comes to something better than the status quo, most of us could do with a little more desire. Things don’t usually get better, at least significantly better, unless someone really wants them to, and so we need to lose our fear of words like aspiration and passion. In a healthy sense, we need to be discontent with the progress that has already been made — and eager for the progress that’s still ahead.
Whether the need for improvement is in our inward character or the outward things we deal with, a commitment to progress is an act of both faith and hope. In defiance of those who say, “It’s no use,” we must trust what we know about the possibility of progress. Going forward isn’t easy, and setbacks are sure to be suffered along the way, but faith and hope say, “What needs to be improved, can be improved.”
“Progress begins with the belief that what is necessary is possible” (Norman Cousins).