I love my mornings. I read two papers and several books. This morning I read a paragraph that I wanted to share with you. “American capitalism has lost its traditional legitimacy, which was based on a moral system of reward rooted in the Protestant sanctification of work. It has substituted hedonism which promises material ease and luxury, yet shies away from all the historic implications of a voluptuary system, with all its social permissiveness and libertinism.”
Let me define some terms. Voluptuary involves a concern with luxury and sensual pleasure. A libertine is someone who is devoid of moral restraints. What Bell is saying is our culture has replaced a strong work ethic with a desire for pleasure, while ignoring the consequences of the shift in thinking. We no longer see hard work as valuable, and would rather play video games than work and think. He just may have a point.
The question one must answer then is why? Why have we shifted from an ethic associated with hard work and affluence, to one that is selfish and focused on pleasure? There are many probable answers to this question, such as the lack of fairness in our financial systems, or how we see “the man.” We may even want to blame our parents, by focusing on the fact they did not change our diapers quickly enough, or they washed our mouths out with soap of something. We look for others as the cause of our problems, when the issue really is us. As Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Another opportunity, as my uncle would say, is the inability of our political and business leaders to get along. The partisanship has become so intrinsic to our system that no decisions can be made. Jim McNerney from the Boeing Company discussed this in an article in today’s WSJ. He stated that, “America works best when American business and government complement one another.” Today’s political gridlock is the exact opposite of what we need to dig out of this crisis. He ends his article with a warning to our politicians. “If Washington can once again find the ability to mix democracy and effective governing, American business will once again unleash America’s economic potential.”
At first I wasn’t sure if the first part of this blog entry meshed with the second half, but I am now convinced they are congruent. As individuals we have moved away from hard work, and as a political system we can no longer find consensus. In both of these cases we are undermining the very fabric of what made this country great. It is time we repent and move back to our strong work ethic and a civic dialogue that will ensure us working together for the good of people.
And that is my thought for the day!