Monday, April 24, 2006


Automibles, airplanes, electric wheelchairs, antibiotics, microwave popcorn (and microwave ovens), open heart surgery, abolition, organ donation, remote controls, television, rockets to the moon, copiers (remember dittos?), desktop publishing, computers, integration, personal computers, hand-held computers, electric stoves, the internet, digital photography, genome mapping, indoor plumbing, contact lenses, Buffalo-style chicken wings, automatic dishwashers, DVDs, women's suffrage, cell phones, cordless phones, CPR, mechanical bulls, refrigeration, etc, etc...

The inventors of all of these things (and many, many more) were all considered unrealistic.

Even things we consider fundamental realities today, like democracy, were ridiculed when they were proposed (hence the electoral college!)

Prior to the 1970s it was written in textbooks that people with Down syndrome could not learn to read. When the laws changed and children with disabilities went to school this known "fact" was challenged. It is now estimated that a large percentage of people with Down syndrome can learn to read at above a 4th grade level--and many above an 8th grade level. This in spite of pretty poor compliance with the education laws throughout the country.

The term "unrealistic" sounds so practical, so irrefutable, so final when a naysayer uses it to squash an idea, but this is far from the truth. The fact is, NOTHING is realistic until it's real. Unrealistic is the place where every worthwile endeavor in the history of humankind began.

As Frances Hodgson Burnett said, "At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, and then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done--then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago."

So smile when they call you unrealistic--you are in great company. You might even be on the path to discovering the best thing since sliced bread!

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