I am a great believer that something remarkable was in the air during the 1930s and 1940s. I am also a believer that the pendulum of life swings both ways.
Yes, there was war back in the 1930s and 40s. Yes, there was hardship very difficult for many of us to understand today. But, along with these political, economic and personal tragedies, there was also a strength. And, it was unbeatable.
That strength – call it physical, spiritual or mental – was a certain kind of energy and clear-thinking that opened doors to possibility. What “could” be, was almost visible to the thinkers of that day. As for the way things were, well, let’s just say reality wasn’t entertainment. The boring dullness of “Reality” was the very thing people wanted to change.
Donald A. Laird was a thinker married to a creative woman named Eleanor. Together, they made a powerful team. They were fascinated by human nature and specialized in studying what people “can” do with their lives instead of what they can’t. They knew the world remembers what you get done in life and not what brand of cell phone you carried or the kind of car you drove or how many friends you thought you had on Facebook. Together, the Lairds had probably attended enough funerals to know the world doesn’t care what toys made you happy. The world only cares about what you do for the world.
All of us face challenges when it comes to making the world a better place. The same challenges that might be impossible for some of us could mean very little to others who have handled such problems before — and conquered them. War, though, is a problem for everyone. Today, there is a lot of talk about war.
Most of us, even those who don’t watch the news, have a sense that something is in the air. Right now, almost every family is affected by laws that fly in the face of common sense, complicated rules we are forced to follow and passionate opinions in schools, churches, airports and in our places of work. Looking around, it isn’t easy to escape the feeling that something is a lot different around us than it used to be. But, what can we do about it?
How can we keep ourselves balanced with preachers, teachers, police, politicians and movie stars shouting and making us afraid?
I wasn’t lucky enough to meet the Lairds in person. Dr. Laird died in the 1960s when I was just starting out in life. But, I can imagine him as a lovable professor, walking around town with his wife, saying hello to their neighbors. I can sense them looking over notes about inventors, artists, musicians and achievers in every field of endeavor, debating similar personalities and work habits they discovered among such people in their research.
Surely, as they looked for clues about self-improvement and changing our lives for the better, the Lairds could sense trouble brewing in a restless world. Surely, they felt the uneasiness of people asking what we can do in troubled times and how we can reassure those around us. Surely, they thought of the children in town and wondered what it would be like for those children in the years ahead.
We are in that world now. It is filled with threats, insults and vulgarity almost everywhere we go. It is jammed with brain-bending electrical waves, disrespectful songs and barbaric brutality. Heads are being chopped off, drugs are in almost every movie and presidents are blatantly disrespected by anyone who can find an angry mob and grab a microphone. It’s easy to destroy.
Are we proud of this? Does it make us feel better? Is this how you water the seeds of peace and prevent war?
We know the answers to that.
The professor and his team-mate gave encouragement for those seeking answers in times of doubt. Along the way, they gave us “Sizing Up People”, “The Technique of Building Personal Leadership” and “The Technique of Getting Things Done” among their other published works.
If the Lairds were here today, they’d know what to do.
Donald A. Laird and E.C. Laird would be writing books.