Monday, April 28, 2008

Individualism....To My Amiga Shirley...

We had a good little exchange discussing "Big Oil"... and in that string of posts you asked that I dig up my "Individualism" post... so I've done just that. I actually wrote the original hastily and somewhat in anger, so I took the liberty of editing / cleaning up my thoughts a tad. This post was aimed at none other than Stephanie. We had a pretty "hot" exchange on Casa Herrera. Casa Herrera , as a blog , has since Died (Sorry Adrian or Leah if you happen to read this) but that original string of posts is still there.

To read the entire context, go to Select "June" under past episodes and select the post called "Livin the Dream" posted on Wednesday June 13, 2007. There were a total of 23 comments and of course I tried to back up my assertions with as much fact as possible. I just went back and read it, its really good. LaDawn even chimed in, this was before she actually liked me as much as she does today...


... My original post, when I stated “Individualism is what made this country great” was in reference to the fact that there are blatant attempts to level the playing field and basically ban people from being competitive. Now most people’s first reaction is, I agree. Everything should be fair. But that rule applies to everyone but “you”. Whoever “You” is.

Let’s take Max for example [Joe's God Son], Leah and Adrian are going to do everything they can to give Max every advantage in life they possibly can. Love, Shelter, Educate him. Get him into the best school they can possibly get him into. (and hopefully avoid boulder High School), get him into the best college he can . All along the way, there will be people that will try to marginalize him or will be simply going after the same things he is [Updated Example: Tell people who fail, they haven't failed, telling everyone on the losing team they won as well, the elimination of honor roll's, etc]

Fortunately for Max...the US’s Capitalistic economy and culture does not make jobs and life in general a zero sum game. In other words, if Max or Baby Joe lands a good job, it doesn’t mean someone else won’t. If Max gets a great raise, it doesn’t mean someone else gets nothing. Everyone has the power to create their own happiness and its NOT at the expense of someone else’s (generally). If you got nothing, you probably deserved it. If you don’t like it, find a country that will provide better opportunities.

My point on individualism in America, is this. It is average, ordinary people doing extraordinary things. The average, anonymous individuals among us (myself included) pursue the best lives for ourselves and our families as best we can. However we describe that “best life” and for whatever reason. We want to take care of our families and pursue excellence or Self Actualism (Mazlo reference). [I am not only referring to Financial Happiness, this is why I said "however we describe that best life].

Self interest, is far different than selfishness. Self interest, simply provides the foundations for America’s greatness [I know it has its drawbacks]. Self Interest and Individualism vs. Common good, I don’t see these as opposing values. I am contributing to the common good of Society, by being the best I can be or being better than what I imagined possible.

“Rugged individualism” is what made the US great, and Rugged individualism does not imply or does not mean selfishness, it doesn’t mean not caring or being concerned for others or the common good of the country.

The more people who are not conditioned NOT to seek the best in themselves, who are not challenged to meet or exceed expectations, the more people who won’t push themselves to do what they are capable of doing, then this country won’t continue to be what it has been.

Individualism won WWII, there was no plan in Normandy or Iwo Jima, other than get on the beach. We improvised. Individualism, in this country, seems to produce the right person at the right time who will make a tough decision for the common good and not “conform” to the consensus or pressures. (“Consensus, is the absence of leadership”… Leah hates that quote). Individualism will produce people that will face the “hard cold facts” (Got that one from Good to Great, Jim Collins – Excellent Book) and to the best for everyone. But it takes individualism [and someone trying to be the best they can be]to get there [in order to position themselves to make that decision for the common good]

As you can see Steph, we were on two different wave lengths. I was thinking about the common good and you were (at least from my perspective) referring to franchising and bashing capitalism. Is the Camp Bow Wow a franchise by the way? I guess Leah and Adrian are simply conforming.



Janell said...

Well said, Joe. Thanks for another good post.

Paul said...

And Rugged Individualism has neither an alarm clock nor a time clock...

Scarlet said...

Great post! This is one reason we left Cuba for the US, for the opportunity to rise above mediocre, to not settle. When you don't get anywhere by pushing ahead, eventually you become an underachiever. That's not living.

Cliff said...

I saw nothing to disagree about. Right on. Write on.
also:Consensus, is the absence of leadership”…
I love that quote.
That's how we got to global warming. The facts be damned. Just consensus.
C'mon Janell. Lets get with it.

Joe B said...

Thanks Cliff, where is Shirley by the way? This was for her?

By the way, Heather and I and Little Joe are heading to Colorado for the week. We are hanging out with Stephanie (LaDawns sister) at a picnic on Sunday. Looking forward to meeting her for the second time. I may not be posting much next week. I will be staying at CasaHerrera (the actual casa, not the blog that once was).

Shirley said...

He Joe -- I'm here. I don't have anything against the Rugged Individualism ideas. Sure it can make great things happen.

A level playing field -- no don't want that to happen. That would be boring and cause it's own problems. I see nothing wrong with raising your children and providing every advantage you can for them. I've tried that. But as you point out, all that can condition people to not being their best. So make sure those children understand that they should never expect fairness in the world. I once heard a young mother on a radio program explaining how she kept a chart to show her children how things were fair in their household. I said, "that's stupid," right out loud to the radio. Not everyone is going to get an invite to a party, or whatever. Where does that woman live? Anyway I also heard Tim Russert speak, and he makes the point that in raising his son to realize that even with all that he can provide for him, the kid should never expect the world to be fair. And I will add, what you do next will make the individual.

Along with reaching Maslow's self-actualization comes realizing the others around an individual have a lot to do with the world turning also. I looked back at your original writing on the Casa blog, and as much as Alex P. Keaton helped you pull yourself up by your bootstraps, I would guess there were people around who were not fictional characters who helped you along the way. Family, friends, teachers, maybe a girlfriend?
Indvidualism is not isolationism.

As for your reference to WWII and individuals winning the war. I'm not so sure that's the way to look at that. Those guys hit those beaches together, not one at a time. The ones still around to talk about it, give credit to the guy next to them who did not come home. That war is often cited as the time in this country when persons united for the one cause. The time when sacrificing was universal and collective. Certainly a lot of mistakes were made and individual's efforts got us through, but it was not without a common goal.

There's a neat song by Carole King that says "sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes the blues get ahold on you." You should sing that one to your little guy sometimes.

Paul? what does the clock reference mean?

Consensus the abscence of leadership. I don't know how to take that.