Freeman

ARTICLE

Think Small

APRIL 01, 1963 by JOE HOCHDERFFER

Mr. Hochderffer is Director of Public Relations for a hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

In this big world with its mam­moth oceans and mighty rivers, majestic peaks and endless plains, with its big governments, big or­ganizations, big schemes, and big talk, in an age of powerful plan­ners and stupendous spenders—make way for a little coward. I am awed by it all, confused by the con­tradictions, flooded by the facts, and bowled over by bigness. So, at the risk of excommunication by the public relations profession that I represent, I timidly offer my point: think small, young man, think small.

You are a fleck on this earth, and this world is a speck in the universe. The very swell of size can swallow you, tumble and toss you through eternity, a helpless and hopeless glob in the mob, un­less you put your feet down. You risk all the great principles that have evolved in the brief course of mankind, you risk all that is dear and right and good, you risk your own sanity, your very being—overwhelmed by bigness. Unless you pause. There is a still small voice. Listen to it.

God didn’t hire a consultant firm of angels to gather statistics upon which he based a seven-day plan. He acted on his own. As he cre­ated, he looked at what he had as he went—one day at a time. He didn’t plan big—for the dinosaur and the mammoth. He thought small—for man.

God planted some guideposts along the way. There’s nothing big or overwhelming or confusing about the Ten Commandments. They have never been repealed, despite all this relativity talk. There are those who would have us believe that Christ brought with him a new set of command­ments. He didn’t. Jesus himself said, "I am not come to abolish the law… but to fulfill it." He distilled the law for us: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. And you shall love your neighbor as your­self." Not humanity. Not the world. The little guy next door.

When the President of the United States gets on television, as he did one day recently, and tells me that I can no longer think of my neighbor as being next door, but that I must think of him as the slum dweller in Los Angeles or the starving orphan in Pakis­tan, I shoot him down like a sit­ting duck. I do not know any slum dwellers in Los Angeles or any orphans in Pakistan. My neighbor lives next door, where he has al­ways lived.

Graphs frighten me, mainly be­cause I am afraid there is some­one who understands them. Num­bers, especially when they follow dollar signs, are staggering to one who still gets confused as to where to put the decimal point in figur­ing interest. If the planners and the PR men who are singing the third verse of that "think big" song set out to baffle me, they have succeeded. It is my intention here to tell you how I have man­aged to survive the continual flood of statistics—and enjoy it. I think small. It’s all I’m capable of.

When the first paragraph of the public relations journal ends with its command to think big, I close the magazine. Revenge is sweet.

I ignore people who would confuse me by bigness. I have to, because I am small and they are inac­curate.

Here is my public relations essay. I must confine it to some­thing I know and partially under­stand. There is not one bit of re­search behind this, and I don’t know whether it would hold true anywhere else on earth. But this is the way I think public relations ought to be handled in my hospi­tal, and it is the way I try to handle it.

I pray every morning that God will see me through the day, and I thank him that night. When I enter my office, I smile at my secretary, mainly because I like her and am glad to see her. As I walk down the corridors, I speak to doctors, some of whom are be­ginning to think of me as a person instead of the paid professional liar who is supposed to sell the hospital administration’s side of the story to the board of directors and fool the public with glowing press releases (designed to dis­tort the truth of medical tech­nology through use of one-syllable words). I like doctors because I have learned that they don’t know everything, and that puts them in my category.

I try to get to know nurses and orderlies and maids and techni­cians. These are the people in my hospital who come into contact with patients. And if these people know their job, do it well, and en­joy it, then they do the effective public relations job of this hospi­tal. Not I.

You see, I am convinced that there is nothing like people-to­people contact in this world. We are not then chained by bigness. We are set free in our own small environments to unleash our crea­tive energies as best we can. I don’t seem to have the ability or find the occasion to think big or do big. Much of my job is littledetails. I can be miserable and curse the fact that I don’t have the opportunity to be great—or I can enjoy doing small things well. I am beginning to realize what Thoreau meant when he said, "Simplify, simplify, sim­plify."

It is a thrill and a joy to be small and know it. Size is quantity, and it is quality that counts. I invite you to wrench yourself free from the muck of vastness, num­bers, and volume. Think small this day. You will love it because you are adequate for it.

 

***

Ideas on Liberty

What Kind of a "Nut" Is He?

Editorial advertisement in the Marysville, California Appeal Democrat, one of the chain of "Freedom Newspapers."

He wants to run his own business.

He wants to select his own doctor.

He wants to make his own bargains.

He wants to buy his own insurance.

He wants to select his own reading matter.

 He wants to provide for his own old age.

He wants to make his own contracts.

He wants to select his own charities.

He wants to educate his children as he wishes.

He wants to make his own investments.

He wants to select his own friends.

He wants to provide his own recreation.

He wants to compete freely in the market place.

He wants to grow by his own efforts.

He wants to profit from his own errors.

He wants to take part in the competition of ideas.

He wants to be a man of goodwill.

What kind of a nut is he?

He’s an American, that’s what kind!

ASSOCIATED ISSUE

April 1963

comments powered by Disqus

EMAIL UPDATES

* indicates required

CURRENT ISSUE

November 2014

It's been 40 years since F. A. Hayek received his Nobel Prize. His insights, particularly on the distribution of knowledge and the impossibility of economic planning, remain hugely important today. In this issue, we look back on the influence of his work. Max Borders and Craig Biddle debate whether liberty must be defended from one absolute foundation, further reflections on Scottish secession, and how technology is already changing our world for the better--including how robots, despite the unease they cause, will only accelerate this process.
Download Free PDF

PAST ISSUES

SUBSCRIBE

RENEW YOUR SUBSCRIPTION