Archive for the ‘Vietnam veterans’ Category

Be true to yourself–and leverage the power of the many

Friday, March 16th, 2007

Saw a documentary last night on the then-20-year-old woman who designed the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial. Inspiring story of a girl whose parents emigrated from China and became professors, both at Ohio University. She, Maya Lin, grew up with a strong example and internalized commitment to doing what not only what is right, but also what is important.  She stuck to it through all struggles she had to face as various factions fought over the appropriateness of the memorial, including facing angry Vietnam vets who intially felt the design was not only wrong but insulting.

Some of the most powerful images from the film were watching that young girl’s eyes as that angry vet reviled her design, and later watching her calm, quiet, and humble figure walk away from the 10th anniversary celebration of the memorial–attended by tens of hundreds of vets and families, almost all in tears.

She believed in what she was doing. Her vision won over the most prestigious and powerful competitors. She stood firm against opposition. And she remains true to herself today, having designed a moving memorial to the civil rights movement in addition to unique museums and even homes.

Perhaps the most moving of all the images were those of the fingers and the hands of the visitors/viewers who come to draw on the energy of those designs, fingers tracing the names of loved ones or breaking little pathways in the water flows. When people participate, a project gains far greater power.

And that is the principle behind social networking and the power of the Internet–as new technology makes it possible for more and more people to participate. Your project can gain greater power. And if you, like Maya Lin, keep always the highest ideal in mind as you work, your work will always remain meaningful and your decisions intelligent.