Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Parkinson's Disease - Everyone Use Your Slingshot

In size it is number 122 out of 249 countries in the world, just ahead of, Togo, Svalbard and its neighbor, Latvia. With 3.5 million people it is hardly a powerhouse. There are no significant geographic advantages, natural resources, distinguishing features or objectively measurable benefits enjoyed by this country. Caught up in the crushing arms of the big mother bear, Russia, in 1940 without so much as a, "Hey, you cannot do that!" from the rest of the world, it reluctantly served as Moscow's primary ice free port on the Baltic Sea. That is, with the exception of the 4 years under Nazi control.

Lithuania is the quintessential little guy by almost any comparison. But even without David's slingshot, this country has proven that, with determination, you can slay a Goliath and in the process change the world. It was a mere 20 years ago, on March 11, 1990, when the Soviet "bellybutton" state decided it had had enough. After 50 years of indentured servitude, Lithuanians wanted freedom from their chains, forming a historic human chain of some 2 million people, stretching far beyond its own borders. In fact, this small country led its fellow Soviet states by example and became the tipping point for the collapse of the USSR. Who would have guessed it?

Most of us feel like the "little guy" most of the time. By any objective standard each of us are relatively insignificant. Many things could disqualify us from the category of people who change the world. Not enough money, limited political clout, mediocre talent and, at least in my case, a chronic degenerative disease. These and other apparent shortcomings all exclude us from the ranks of great people. Or at least that is what we find ourselves believing.

I suspect, without knowing, that Lithuania did not set out to be a world-changing giant-killer. My understanding is that its citizens simply wanted their freedom and were prepared to do whatever they could to gain it. So, what am I doing in my "little guy" way to change my world for the better; to do what I can to shake off the shackles that keep me, and others, from reaching their potential? Having seen what Lithuania has done, I am convinced that each of us "little guys" can do something.

For those of us with Parkinson's disease, or any other health challenge, it may be doing something to improve the lot of those around us. Maybe it is visiting someone with PD who does not feel comfortable in a public setting. Maybe it is volunteering to be part of a study on new medication or better ways to treat this disease. Or maybe it is by living with courage, forming a virtual human chain of people willing to bravely defying the domination of disease.

Everyone has a slingshot.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bob

    I love this article! You continue to be such an inspiration to all of us and you always give me a new way ot looking at things. Thank you for maintaing this blog!