I just finished listening to a speech Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough gave on architecture and history to the American Institute of Architects National Convention in Washington DC in May. He talked about the influence of European culture on architects and architecture in the United States. That may sound like a strange subject for the likes of me and he talks a lot about France that I know nothing about. But his perspective on history and what we get from studying it was well worth hearing.
In this speech David McCullough said, "Great works are done as joint efforts, not just joint with people who are present but those who came before us."
Think through that and you will have to admit it is true. The writer of the book of Romans said essentially the same thing. "None of us lives or dies to himself alone." (Romans 14:7) We are the product of all those who came before us and the influence of those living with us.
McCullough said that the great cathederals in Europe, some of which took hundreds of years to construct, were great works of art but the architect worked jointly with the masons, sculptors, painters, and other skilled workers to produce them. The architect only designed the building which was then produced by joint efforts.
Think about the things you do or have done. How have others contributed to make it possible for you do accomplish what you did? The technology that makes is possible for me to write this blog was the work of more than one person. A teacher in high school taught me how to type. It is not morally wrong to feel a sense of accomplishment when we see a job successfully completed, but we need to remember that it was a joint effort. All those who came before and live around us contributed to the project in one way or another. Looking at it from that perspective makes me feel rather small.