The Call to Greatness.


It’s foolish to be unconscious when greatness wants us for itself.

The call to greatness is latent in every soul. It remains until the bell tolls and we turn to the dust from whence we came. In this regard, America is truly the land of opportunity — open ports and false starts. Something about our dust seems divine perhaps by intelligent design. In fact, few places on the planet offer our privileges because most lack our freedoms. Here all who can will if they are willing.

All who are willing can turn a shilling into a fortune and a fortune into proof of democracy’s promise. This promise inspires ambition and encourages endurance amid adversity.

Greatness requires adversity — breeds it, in fact — to inform the soul concerning itself lest what is latent be neglected. Too many people miss the connection between accomplishment and adversity, hard times and great success, because they don’t use adversity as a catalyst. Ignorance of this element frustrates talent until they are defeated thereby.

America, however, harnessed adversity along with a sense of destiny, which Manifest Destiny diminished because of its immorality, to become the world’s envy.

Consider how neither civil war nor harsh conditions denied our rise. Despite these, we believed in our greatness and labored accordingly, letting problems push us forward.

Today we have traded forward for backwards instead. We dwell here because of what fear instills and adversity deals until we doubt our ability. Yet each of us has the ability to use suffering to reveal the summit of the American spirit, answering the call to greatness.

Most people let suffering quench their spirit and censor their answer, deferring their hopes indefinitely like student loans they can’t pay or stubborn parents they can’t sway by their appeals.

Meanwhile the call to greatness remains and can only be removed by death. Not even despair denies it as we imagine when we feel overwhelmed and abandoned. Until we answer it, we sit between two worlds — one dying and the other burning yet not consumed, like the bush Moses saw when God summoned him to greatness, according to the Hebrew legend.

What is legend to some is life to those who heed this call. They heed because they believe in themselves despite inner struggles. They would rather answer the call to greatness than to live in regret. They also answer because they respect themselves too much to neglect what is latent though it is undeveloped. Hence their courage when circumstances crush.

Courage compels until they accomplish what they hear in the inner ear of their soul.

So many people claim not to hear. Hence their passivity. They refuse to answer, and hope thereby to cancel the call to greatness. Yet the call comes whether or not we want it to. It comes because without greatness as a goal we diminish the role nature designed and life requires in order to maintain itself. It comes because it sees more in us than we see in ourselves.

In fact, the call to greatness ignores circumstances and their circumscription. It knows that once we answer, we cancel their dominion. In refusing to answer, circumstances circumscribe. They also suffocate.

Democracy diminishes when we reject the call to greatness, morally especially. In neglecting this component, we compel conditions which we sanction through our indifference, cowering uncritically. We cower because we lack courage, and because of the carnage we see around us of those who failed in answering its call.

Few people, however, truly fail if they truly answered the call to greatness. Neither are they as unfortunate as their circumstances suggest. To be unfortunate is to be without fortune, which none of us are provided we spar with circumstances. We may be disadvantaged, deprived even, but we are not without fortune.

On the contrary, we are favored whenever we labor in answering the call to greatness. We can, in fact, be favored and failing together. Hence the importance of the right perspective. Hence the need to be inwardly directed. Else in taking our cues from the news announced by events, we will feel cursed when suffering extends especially.

Even so, some people must suffer to be great. They must have it harder than others that we might discover pain’s limits. Beyond which, pain ceases to censor our ability to answer the call to greatness. Instead we use it to awaken what is latent in the soul. Consider Stephen Hawking, for example. Despite his condition, he enriches physics with his theories.

Consider also the child who smiles in innocence about her intent to accomplish what others doubt because she lacks what success requires. Consider also how she accomplished because she answered the call to greatness.

Consider Wilma Rudolph, who, despite contracting polio as a child, set records and raised standards in answering the call to greatness. An ardent activist, Rudolph was the fastest woman in the world during her career. She was also the first to win three Olympic gold medals.

Consider, moreover, the innumerable names and anonymous frames that rise daily committed deeply to being an exhibit of the human spirit, and its ability to transcend when nature transgresses by withholding some quality.

Consider Helen Keller and her permanent shelter in darkness because of blindness. Consider how she garnered greatness once she awakened and answered its call. Consider our ability to accomplish accordingly when we answer. Consider America’s historical presence, its waning dominance and dormant endowments. Consider how its resurgence rests on our commitment.

Consider, in this regard, how we degrade our talents and deny our endowments. Until we consider, what is latent will remain neglected. In doing so, we decline by default to answer the call to greatness.


joelbryantA former corporate trainer and university lecturer, Dr. Joel Bryant is an avid reader, writer, speaker, thinker and dreamer. He is also the author of over 40 books on various topics, each exploring themes of change, growth and greatness. He holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from UNC Charlotte, where he spent five years lecturing in the Philosophy Department. He resides in Charlotte, NC.


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