Impossible is a strong word. It means an idea, concept or ideology is unattainable, unlikely and unconceivable. Impossible is often man’s alibi for not daring and venturing into worthwhile deeds. When Orville and Wilbur Wright envisioned the airplane, a means through which man could be transported from one point to the other in the air, they were told it was impossible because the law of gravity does not permit metal to fly in the air. Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone was told it was practically impossible for man to communicate beyond certain space. Thomas Edison, the great inventor, was told his planned invention of the electric bulb was impossible; some people thought he was foolish for even trying. Throughout history, inventors have been told that their ideas were stupid, unrealistic and impossible. Nonetheless, through hard work, innovation and ingenuity, many inventors were able to prove their dissenters wrong, to the benefits of mankind.
Outside the field of inventions, great social crusaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela were severally told that their quests for nonviolent transition from colonisation to independence, racial equality and freedom from domination and oppression were impossible. Today, because of the courage, resilient belief and dogged determination of these great men, India is an independent and progressively prosperous nation, racial equality is burgeoning in America and the walls of apartheid have crumbled in South Africa. Surely, we must ponder carefully before we say the word impossible.
We are daily confronted with several daunting personal and social situations that make us utter the word impossible abruptly. On a personal level, we say it is impossible to lose weight, we say it is impossible to trust and love again, we say it is impossible to start that business, we say it is impossible to go back to school etc. Socially, we say it is impossible to curb corruption and mismanagement in our country, we say it is impossible to stamp out rape and all forms of violence against women and children in the society, we say it is impossible to remove guns from our schools, we say it is impossible to stem drug abuse and bring drug dealers to justice, we say it is impossible for elections to be free, fair and violence free etc.
Daunting as the above mentioned social ills may seem, surmounting them is not impossible. If we take individual responsibilities to initiate the process of change in our lives, to stand against corruption at all levels, to champion the call for greater gun control and eventual purging of guns in the society, to confront violence against women and children nonviolently, to love and respect our neighbours irrespective of their beliefs, creed, colour and sex, then we would have taken steps towards the positive social change we desire.
As Gandhi once stated, we must be the change we want to see in the world. Relentless, patient and courageous men and women like Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. etc. have demonstrated that people who are willing to go after something that has never been done before will often find the energy to act based on a couple of different reasons. The first is they are stubbornly unwilling to accept the fact that the task is impossible, for whatever reason, the other is they have no choice but to act.
One of the biggest constraints to positive social change is our beliefs. We must recognize that what a person believes directly shapes his or her perceptions of reality, and directly impacts the actions he or she will take and the results that can be produced. When those beliefs hold people back, we should figure out a way for them to question and willingly let go of those constraints. If the beliefs are enabling, we should help people continue to see positive and desired outcomes from them. Most importantly, we must help people realize that impossible is nothing; in other words, nothing is impossible!
By Olusegun Adebayo