Day 50. Another of the “commencement addresses” published by the Wall Street Journal this past weekend was written by a professor at New York University, Kwame Anthony Appiah. Titled, “Dreams Made Possible by Others, he struck a theme which resonates loudly to me in my daily life and work – teamwork. Accomplishments , large and small, are not about “me” they are about “us”. Here are a few excerpts from his insightful article.
At a normal commencement, there are two forms of celebration. On the one hand, we celebrate each graduate’s individual achievements in getting a college degree. On the other hand, we applaud the families, the teachers and the classmates who sustained them….
So, who really deserves the credit? Silly question, of course. They all do. The importance of both our individuality and our dependencies is also a lesson of the pandemic – the pandemic that has sent the usual commencement assembly of celebrants into a digital diaspora.
How, after all have we prevented this coronavirus from unleashing its worst? By the heroic exertions of health-care workers, certainly. But also by the small acts performed by countless Americans – staying home, maintaining a safe distance from another. Each one of us is entitled to take our individual credit for that….Yet, your individual contribution only helps when the rest of us do our part. In combination, small contributions take on the magnitude of a large scale lifesaving intervention. We’re doing something great together….
So much of the social fabric we take for granted is like this: many small sacrifices that amount to a huge collective benefit. Too often we imagine there’s a necessary conflict between individuality and community. In truth, individuality – including the extraordinary – is enabled by communal practices of mutual care and responsibility….
Pursue your dreams, yes. But remember that they are only possible because all of us are doing our share to make a society in which those dreams can be pursued.Wall Street Journal May 2-3, 2020
Another lesson to be learned from the Covid-19 pandemic.