Obama, Boehner, shootings, increased permits for concealed weapons, Marc Boldt removed from office because he got along with the opposition, and on and on it goes. We are quickly losing our collective marbles. 2012 is quickly coming to an end, and maybe the world (according to the Mayans), but so is our civic sensibility.
Our current society seems to be in an uproar. Daniel Henniger reflected on this in his morning editorial, “As the saying goes, there was a time. And indeed there really was a time when life seemed more settled, when emotions, both private and public, didn’t seem to run so continuously at breakneck speed, splattering one ungodly tragedy after another across the evening news.” I would agree with him, tragedy has always happened in life, but within this modern era there seems to be much more anger under the collective surface of our culture.
Now, we are living in an era that could be characterized by the words of TS Elliot, “how did so many become undone.” Henniger tries to address this in his article, and argues that our society has lost self-restraint. He feels this happened in the 60’s when self-restraint was devalued. He points to this as the time where our society moved from self-control to self-indulgence.
He first wrote about this in 1993. “No Guardrails” was a synopsis against a no-limits culture, in other words a culture with no guardrails. He reiterates the warning this morning. “No guardrails was not a plea for retrieving a mythical past. It argued that a no-limits culture was destructive and that we would be better off if our intellectual, political and cultural elites rediscovered – and publicly revered – the protective virtues of self-control and self-constraint.” I think his assessment is correct.
Arthur Brookes, President of the American Enterprise Institute, went down a similar path this morning in his editorial. His offering was titled “America’s Dangerous Powerball Economy.” He references several research studies that explored what happened to people over time, which had won large lotteries. He noted, “Rarely do people say, if I won the lottery, I’d marry someone who doesn’t love me, buy a bunch of things I don’t really want, and then start an ugly alcoholic spiral.” This was not a pro-con discussion about the philosophy of Capitalism, but an exploration into the idea of meaningful work. “The University of Chicago’s General Social Survey reveals that people are twice as likely to feel very happy about their lives if they feel very successful, or completely successful, rather than somewhat successful.” In other words, they have worked for and attained a relative level of achievement.
Warner Pacific is embarking on a new endeavor. We will be educating students in the area of Entrepreneurism. “Entrepreneurs of all types rate their well-being higher than do members of all other professional groups in America, according to years of polling by the Gallup organization.” Another study mentioned by Brookes demonstrates that earned success “facilitates the pursuit of happiness,” while “unearned transfers generally impede it.”
I have heard the arguments that half of our society receives some level of public assistance. I have heard the statements that less and less of our population earn their way in America. I have read that America is becoming an entitlement state. If these claims are true, all of us should be concerned. If this is true then half of our population is languishing in the dungeon of despair, with entitlements encouraging them to stay in that dungeon even though the door is unlocked.
This is not a tax and spend issue; it is a moral issue! It is a moral issue because if half of our society is plummeting into these depths, because they can’t make it, then we need to overhaul the system in a manner that allows them to become productive. The question then is, where do we start? We start with ourselves first.
As Brian Johnson stated in Be The Solution, “If we – as enlightened entrepreneurs – are going to change the world, we must start with ourselves. We must strive to live at our highest potential while using our greatest strengths in the greatest service to the world.” This process is two-fold, internal and external. We work on ourselves and we serve others.
Arete is a Greek word that reflects important values needed today. It is a word that expresses the desire to attain excellence and achieving your highest potential. Seneca, a first-century Stoic philosopher stated, “Man’s ideal state is realized when he has fulfilled the purpose for which he is born. And what is it that reason demands of him? Something very easy – that he live in accordance with that nature.”
Our purpose is not sitting in front of a T.V. watching Modern Family, playing video poker in a tavern, or playing golf everyday. Entertainment is good, but what is our purpose? We, all of us, need to be productive, and we need to feel that we have achieved something. This isn’t easy, but if we sit around feeling sorry for ourselves, we lose. It is time to pick ourselves up, and say, enough is enough. Let’s stop this craziness and fight for what is right. Let’s take control of our future, and become all we were meant to be. I think I might spend some time thinking about this subject.
And that is my thought for the day!