A JURY OF DISTINGUISHED scholars and scientists,
including Albert Einstein and Orville Wright thought enough of
Jimmy Yen to vote him one of the top ten Modern Revolutionaries
of the Twentieth Century. Yet all he did was teach Chinese peasants
What made that so amazing was that for
four thousand years reading and writing in China was only done
by the Scholars. "Everybody" knew, including the peasants
themselves, that peasants were incapable of learning.
That thoroughly ingrained cultural belief
was Jimmy Yen's first "impossible" barrier. The second
barrier was the Chinese language itself, consisting of 40,000
characters, each character signifying a different word! The third
barrier was the lack of technology and good roads. How could
Jimmy Yen reach the 350 million peasants in China?
Impossible odds, an impossibly huge goal-and
yet he had almost attained it when he was forced (by Communism)
to leave his country.
Did he give up? No. He learned from defeat
and expanded his goal: Teach the rest of the Third World to read.
Practical reading programs, like the ones he invented in China,
started pumping out literate people like a gushing oil well in
the Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Kenya, Columbia,
Guatemala, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Ghana, India people
became literate. For the first time in their entire genetic history,
they had access to the accumulated knowledge of the human race.
For those of us who take literacy for granted,
I'd like you to consider for a moment how narrow your world would
be if you'd never learned how to read and there was no access
to radios or TVs.
180,000 Chinese peasants were hired by
the Allied Forces in WW1 as laborers in the war effort. Most
of them had no idea-not a clue-where England, Germany or France
was, they didn't know what they were being hired to do, and didn't
even know what a war was!
Jimmy Yen was a savior to them.
What was the secret of Jimmy Yen's success?
He found a real need, and found in himself a strong desire to
answer that need. And he took some action: He tried to do something
about it even though it seemed impossible. He worked long hours.
And he started with what he had in front of him and gradually
took on more and more, a little upon a little.
The English author Thomas Carlyle said,
"Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance,
but to do what lies clearly at hand." And that's what Jimmy
Yen did. He started out teaching a few peasants to read, with
no desks, no pens, no money, no overhead projectors. He started
from where he found himself and did what was clearly at hand.
And that's all you need to do. Start now.
Start here. And do what lies clearly at hand.