As a young man, my dad used the saying: “Can’t means you don’t want to!”, many times when responding to my statement of: “I can’t …”.
I remember often feeling angry when he would say, “Can’t means …,” to me, while I thought I was, proverbially speaking,“Stretched as far as I could be stretched.” I felt he didn’t understand my lack of strength, desire, will, motivation, or in general, my inability to actually do what he wanted. I now realize he had a point, though I still think he should have given more consideration to my age and immaturity.
Taking into consideration, and in spite of what I just wrote, the words, “I can’t,” aren’t necessarily reflecting what it means to be human. If we look at human history, we immediately see it as one of constant improvement of the human experience. Humans are constantly driven toward progress. A saying that I have often used is, “Learn from the past, live in the present and make the future better.” That saying speaks volumes to valuing progress. We really don’t, as a human race, accept the words, “I can’t.” Just consider how we humans currently interact, as compared to a few thousand years ago.
We are constantly working toward improving the status quo. The words, “I can’t,” will simply get in the way of normal human behavior. Think about it. If humans had allowed “can’t” to get in the way, then the Greeks, with less than 6000 adult male citizens, wouldn’t have had the impact on democracy we now realize. The sea trade by the Phoenicians, the Silk Road from Asia Minor to China and the discovery of America wouldn’t have happened.
If humans would have had the “I can’t attitude,” there would have been no light bulb, no telephone and no automobile. Generally, the acceptance of, “I can’t,” means no written language, no music, and no books. Human history only reflects an “I can” attitude. Of course, there are set-backs, but we still, as a human race, tend to manifest an “I can” kind of history.
We have a need to grow, to experience achievement, to realize fulfillment and to be better than we were before. As we look at our history, we realize that we are, indeed, unique in having the trait of always expanding our knowledge. There is no group of animals, other than humans, that have planned and completed visits to faraway places like the moon. We are truly unique with this “I can” attitude.
If my dad was alive now and I told him, “I can’t,” I’m sure he would still say, “Can’t means you don’t want to!” Guess what? I now think I agree with him and would say, “Thanks for reminding me that I can!” You see, it’s only human to say, “What if I can?” Yes, I can!
I just realized this is sounding a little bit like President Obama’s campaign slogan. Yes We Can! :-)
Can I, if I can’t? Yes, I think I can!
Can you, or can’t you give a comment? :-)