Words of Wisdom: Big Bird Small?

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walt-pickut Contributing Editor
Contributing Editor

On July 4, 1776, when England’s North American colonies tried to declare themselves a new nation, they were still at war against their tyrannical King George. Our soon-to-be nation created a Great Seal designed to look fierce, dangerous, and native to their land. They selected an American Bald Eagle with its talons gripping a clutch of arrows beside an olive branch – war and peace side by side.

Benjamin Franklin hated the image. He called the eagle “…a bird of bad moral character” and favored the American turkey, a “…”bird of courage.” But Franklin was outvoted.

So today, we salute Eagles all year long and we eat turkeys on Thanksgiving.

But Ben Franklin’s turkey still has a message for us. When those small and courageous colonies came together, they became far more powerful – eventually the most powerful “bird” on Planet Earth.

Our Thanksgiving turkey, then, is a symbol of strength in unity. The more traditional image of early colonists celebrating a good harvest with their native American brothers and sisters is actually the same story merely told in a different way.

So, this year, how about celebrating the “United” part of the United States of America on Thanksgiving. It is a day we all celebrate together, especially with families uniting from far and near for the holiday.

But what has all that “strength in unity” really produced? What can we now do together that we cannot do alone, whether as individuals or as those individual colonies of long ago?

Fortunately, unity is not only about waging war to protect ourselves and our friends. Ben Franklin was right about that. One of the other things the United States does best is the creation of prosperity – good business.

That’s why in 2011, the United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution in support of Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. By now, officials in all 50 states have signed up thousands of “Neighborhood Champions” to promote the day by encouraging people to Shop Small, to bring more holiday shopping to the small businesses in our community.

This week, your Jamestown Gazette’s cover story by Joni Blackman brings us the nation-wide and community-wide celebration of Small Business Saturday. Once again, America’s great talent has turned something small into something dynamic and powerful.

Every one of us can be part of that American spirit by Shopping Small, building our community’s prosperity by doing business with our friends and neighbors.

“In fact, for every dollar spent at a small business in the U.S., approximately 67 cents stays in the local community. So, when you Shop Small on Small Business Saturday – and all year long – it can help add up to a big impact,” according to amex.com, one of the day’s founders.

Small Business Saturday spending is now reported to have reached more than $100 billion since the day began. Let’s make sure our share of that grows and always comes back home.

Dr. Orison Swett Marden was an early American author of more than 50 books on good business. He once wrote, “The golden rule for every business owner is this: ‘Put yourself in your customer’s place.’”

Who can do that better than a small business owner in our own town? That’s somebody who knows who you are, and that’s always best for business.

So, this year, enjoy your turkey on Thanksgiving Day, a wise “bird of courage” that’s big enough to remind us of our strength in unity – in our families, our community businesses, and our nation.

Enjoy the read,
Walt Pickut

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.