MCD Partners

Memphis Daily News
Embrace Potential in 2014
December 30, 2013
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald

The renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, when asked which one of the many buildings he designed was his favorite, without hesitation replied, “My next one.” The new year that stretches out in front of us has the same potential to be the best yet, for Memphis and for each of us.
So what are we going to do with it?
It happened a few years ago on one of my regular visits to the schools when I was superintendent of Catholic Schools.
It was in an inner-city neighborhood, an area of burnt-out buildings and crack houses. The signs of homelessness, poverty and violence were etched into the community and into the faces of those who lined up each day at the door to the church’s soup kitchen. It is, for most of them, the only food they have had since the day before.
I parked my car and walked to the school next to the church, greeting those in the line as I passed. Some were asleep on the ground; some were leaning against the brick wall. There was no chatter, no idle talk, while they waited in line. There was only a silent resignation to their circumstances.
As I walked toward the school, one of the men in line shouted, “Hey, lady!” I turned around and walked toward the man.
“Yes?” I responded, “May I help you?”
“It’s too late for me, lady,” he said, “but save those kids,” and he pointed to the school. There was hollowness about his face and emptiness in his eyes that spoke of a hard life on the streets. And yet, he thought about the children. There was enough hope in him for them, for their dreams, for their way out.
“We‘re here for the children,” I said, “but it’s never too late for you.”
After a struggle, but with support, encouragement and his own determination, that man got sober, his GED and a steady job, and he is still working on being the best version of himself with each new year.
The limitations put on the greatness of ourselves, or our city, on its citizens, business, education, transportation, sports, commerce or its many institutions, is self-imposed. Regardless of any negative experiences of the past, the collective resilience and positive energy of our community pushes us forward into the best version yet of our city for all citizens, and it’s never too late for that.
“It’s too late” and “it will never work” are the battle cries of negative thinkers who are content with the status quo and leery of change. Negative thinking creates the barriers to progress and to that future greatness.
Finding fault is the easiest job in the world. Finding new solutions, taking risks to provide new opportunities for growth, creating new paths that stretch into the next level, is much more difficult, but much more rewarding and productive for all of us.
So, what will we do with this next year, this year of potential? I suggest we promote success.

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

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