Posted by: nhfalcon | July 18, 2009

Today’s Words of Wisdom v.7.18.09

“I have the cure for what ails us… Self-reliance. Morality. Personal responsibility. Optimism and good cheer. Confidence in the irrepressibility of the human spirit. Dependence… on the universal yearning for freedom and the desire to make life better for oneself and one’s family.”

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Responses

  1. I like these, though I have critiques of both of them (you KNEW I would…).

    Yesterday’s (was it yesterday? My days are all blurring together) was lovely, but it’s not about what we SAY, it’s about what we DO. Interesting how we find that the biggest loudmouths about family values and a moral society are the ones caught with hookers or busted for trolling for gay sex in airport bathrooms or arrested for embezzlement.

    For today’s, I wonder how much better our lives would all be if, instead of working for the betterment of OUR lives and OUR families, we started working for the betterment of our entire community? I think a lot of our trouble comes from the idea that *I* deserve something better than you by virtue of my education, my family status, or my social class (or even the color of my skin or the orientation of my sexuality). If we stopped thinking in terms of “me” and started thinking in terms of “us,” I think we’d all be better off, and in a more moral and sustainable way.

    But then again, everyone knows that I’m just a deluded socialist….

  2. Valid arguments, Mrs. C., but allow me to throw out a pair of counter-arguments…

    You KNEW I would… 🙂

    1) Is it that the biggest loudmouths are the ones getting caught, or is that the ones getting caught are the only ones making it into the news? When was the last time you heard or read a news story about somebody actually practicing what they preach? The good people are out there, but because we’re such a culture of schadenfreude we only want to here about the mighty falling.

    Maybe if we started actually hearing about the good guys, we might start emulating them…

    2) I agree that the ultimate goal is for a better community, a better country, a better WORLD…

    But where does it all start? It starts with the individual. As you just pointed out with your commentary about yesterday’s post, how can we take a leader seriously if he or she does not live up to his or her own standards?

    So, I start by holding myself accountable to being the type of person I say we all should be. When I teach that value to my child, he sees that my actions validate my words and takes me seriously and lives his life accordingly. My friends and his friends see that we practice what we preach and take us seriously. Eventually that spreads throughout the neighborhood, then the community, then the city, then the state…

    See where I’m going? It’s like a giant societal Amway pyramid scheme. 🙂

    Or, to put it another way, let’s use the old saying of “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” In this case, the weakest link is the individual.

    The “me” sentiment in this quote isn’t about me being better than you in any way, shape, or form, and it isn’t about me deserving anything. It’s about me holding myself accountable in my part of making the world a better place.

  3. I totally buy all of that, and I agree that it starts with the individual (Let there be peace, Lord, and let it begin with me). I get all that, I really do. What I’m objecting to is the idea that so few practice a kind of self-interest that includes the other. So many are willing to tromp all over anyone they need to in order to get what they want (or, even better, what they feel they “deserve”).

    Do I think that EVERYONE is like this? No, of course not. In fact, I think that most of the people (not all, mind you, but most) I deal with practice a kind of community minded self-interest; how can I make things better for everyone so that things can be better for me? What I object to is the seemingly proud American practice of every man for himself and rugged individualism. How about a little INTER-dependence?

  4. I’m all for building greater community. Can we keep it the hell out of the federal budget?

  5. See, Mrs. C., but the “every man for himself” mentality the currently pervades American thinking isn’t one of the old-fashioned values that the author of these quotes (and there are more to come, let me assure you) was referring to in the 7/17/09 installment.

    As for “rugged individualism,” I think it should still be part of American values, and we should be proud of it, because – to quote Inigo Montoya – I do not think it means what you think it means. 🙂

    “Rugged individualism” used to refer to people like the Pilgrims, our Founding Fathers, the pioneers, Lewis & Clark, Teddy Roosevelt, etc. – people who stood up for or otherwise represented “the little guy.” People who epitomized the ideal that even Joe Average had the right to dream that he could do it better than Big Business or Big Government. People who were willing to take chances chasing that dream. People who didn’t give a damn about the obstacles in the way of that dream and the naysayers pointing to those obstacles and found a way to make the dream come true.

    That’s “rugged individualism” to me, and I’m all for it.

    It should be pointed out, as well, that pretty much all of the “rugged individualists” I listed as examples did, in fact, work as part of teams. There wasn’t just one Pilgrim. There wasn’t just one Founding Father. Lewis needed Clark. Teddy needed his Rough Riders. It’s a nice catch phrase, but it’s not really about the individual – it’s about the underdog.


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