Friday, January 13, 2023
This week, on the plane to Thailand, I watched a movie called, The Duke. It’s a true story about a man named, Kempton Bunton, who, in 1961, was accused of stealing Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London.
Late in the film, on trial for the theft, Bunton rests his entire defense on the notion that his actions were rooted in what we learn is a near life-long sense of duty to his fellow man.
In what is the movie’s most pointed moment, Bunton tells the defense barrister, “It’s you that makes me, me, and it’s me that makes you, you.” What he was saying, I think, is that human beings aren’t meant to be or do things alone. Without others, we, the lives we lead, and that which we endeavor to do in them will be incomplete. True fulfillment requires that we are part of a whole.
And that’s the point for the week.
Creation of anything valuable – indeed of life itself – requires more than one of us.
Achievement, happiness and self-realization are not individual pursuits. They never have been. They never will be. In all of human history, banishment, confinement and isolation have been regarded as punishment, not as something to be sought out. Since ever, those that separate themselves from others have been conspicuous. We have not-so-complimentary terms for them. We look at them funny and wish they’d start thinking about someone other than themselves.
See, challenging convention is one thing. Breaking away from it entirely is a thing altogether different. One says, “let’s go to a different place together.” The other says, “I’m leaving without you.” One is healthy. The other is not.
What Kempton Bunton understood implicitly is that for any of us to reach a height greater than our own requires more than one of us. There is no other way. No one ever stood taller by cutting those around them down. For us to accomplish anything in this business will require the combined efforts of the people in it – not individuals in it for themselves. It’s you that makes me, me, and it’s me that makes you, you, means that together we accomplish something that apart we never could. There’s no room in that for those who have it in their mind to blaze a different path than the one the rest of us are on, or for anyone that wants to play on a team of one.
See, it’s not about any one of us. It’s about all of us and the dreams we have for this place, dreams that come true only because I make you, you and you make me, me and because each of us wakes up every day secure in the knowledge that the whole will always be greater than any one of its parts.
So, be part of the whole.
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