Friday, April 20, 2012

No Hopeless Situations


There is a wonderful urban legend circulating about a man who is trying to land a job as an assistant professor in a university. His application was rejected and he writes the following response:

 Herbert A. Millington
Chair - Search Committee
412 A Clarkson Hall, Whitson University
College Hill, MA  34109


Dear Professor Millington,

   Thank you for your letter of March 16. After careful consideration, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me an assistant professor position in your department.

   This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually large number of rejection letters. With such a varied and promising field of candidates, it is impossible for me to accept all refusals.

   Despite Whitson's outstanding qualifications and previous experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet my needs at this time. Therefore, I will assume the position of assistant professor in your department this August. I look forward to seeing you then.

   Best of luck in rejecting future applicants.

Sincerely,

Chris L. Jensen
If it is true that you can tell how big someone is by what it takes to discourage that person, then this is a man who must be massive. I might say the same thing about a boy who, in real life, was not so big. But he was difficult to discourage and so he showed himself to be a giant on the inside.

Some 40 years ago, when he was only 11 years old, Morgan Rowe lost his left arm and much of the use of his right arm. It happened when he fell off a tractor at his father's fence company in Valdosta, Georgia, and was dragged beneath the machine. Morgan's left arm was destroyed and his right, mangled.

Young Morgan was released from the hospital after three-and-a-half months. The first thing he set out to do was to help pay the bills -- $30,000 worth. That was a lot of money back then as it is now. For a boy of 11 to accomplish such a task, the situation seemed hopeless.

For five years Morgan scoured roadsides picking up cans and bottles. He collected thousands of cans and collected and sold newspapers. He never gave up hope. First, he paid off the $455 ambulance bill. Then he put $2,500 down on the hospital bill.

He was still a long way off though his parents raised another $9,000 toward the debt.

People began to hear about the injured boy and eventually some 2,000 donations poured in, totaling $25,000. The bill was paid in full! Morgan set aside the additional money for future education.

What then? Though the bill was paid up, Morgan kept his projects going to collect money for the hospital so he could help others.

Someone forgot to tell the boy he was too injured for that kind of work. Someone forgot to tell him that the situation was hopeless. Somehow young Morgan didn't realize that an 11-year-old boy could never pay off a hospital bill so large.

Church reformer Martin Luther once said, “Everything that is done in the world is done by the hopeful.” And entertainer Dinah Shore observed, “There are no hopeless situations – only people who are hopeless about them.” Morgan Rowe should know.

I will not always be young and strong. My life circumstances can change in an instant. My health may leave me and I may lose people who are important in my life. But there are no hopeless situations. So I won’t easily turn loose of my hopeful outlook, even when things seem bleak. Without hope, I’m lost. But with it, I suspect that any situation can be creatively redeemed.

-- Steve Goodier

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Image: flickr.com/C. Ryan

3 comments:

~ Sil in Corea said...

This is a beautiful essay about hope and persistence. Thank you, Steve! I will share it.

Anonymous said...

when raisng my children I often told them that the reason they had to help around the house, cook. clean etc was because if something happpaned to me they would be able to take care of themselves. I told them they had " steel " in their spines. this story is a example of " steel" . thanks so much .

Steve Goodier said...

Yes, I think Morgan must have had steel in his spine.