I find it fascinating that our nation is mourning two famous individuals whom hardly anybody knew. People all across America are talking about President Ford and James Brown in glowing and endearing terms, almost as if the two of them had been our next-door neighbors. Only they weren?t, but it doesn?t seem to matter. We mourn their deaths because both of them were important to us as a nation. President Ford took over when President Nixon resigned, at a crucial point in our history. We had just suffered through Watergate, the worst example of political incompetence and graft we had ever seen. We were wounded as a nation, and Gerry Ford became our First Healer. James Brown came around when Afro-Americans in America were disenfranchised, when music in this country truly sounded like ?white-bread.? He revolutionized the musical industry, and we are a better and a more sophisticated country thanks to his efforts.

But aside from those who were personally involved with them, most Americans did not know, nor ever meet, either one of these larger-than-life individuals. And yet, we mourn them as if we had known them. What?s going on here?

I will call it ?The If Factor.? In short, what goes through our minds and hearts when a famous person dies is: ?if they could do it, so can I.? Both President Ford and James Brown were ?little people,? just like you and me. Their roots were nothing special, neither one was born into wealth or guaranteed success, yet both of them became men who achieved personal fulfillment, and were revered by others for what they had accomplished. You and I look at them with longing, as if to say: why can?t I do what they did? What is stopping me from rising up and becoming an influence in this world? Surely I have gifts and talents, as they did, so ?if? they could change the word, so can I!?

So what do we really mourn? The fact that they died? Yes, and that is perfectly normal Their deaths are a loss to this country. But what else do we mourn? Do we mourn that we cannot rise to greatness like they did, that we are powerless to achieve because _________(you fill in the blank with why you think you?re stuck)? If so, stop mourning and start living?remember, ?if? they could do it, so can we!


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