Ideologies, much like the bible are often misquoted. American culture is supposed to be all about the individual and individualism, but if you dig a little to were the term “self-reliance” come from, you will find that it has a lot to do with a speech by Ralph Waldo Emerson where he enunciated the tenets of Transcendentialism. It really cracks me up when people talk about politics and America but know so little about a country that in reality does not have that many years in history. Historically Americans fight the institution, but it seems like as a society they love to live in the now and learn from past mistakes.
I see being selfish as one of the things that hurts this society the most. I also see the misunderstanding of self reliance as kind of a symptom.
I have managed to have a lot of military people in my circle of friends. My first experience with someone that had just left the military was horrible. I worked with a guy who just got out and he seemed to have the maturity of a 16 year old and the work ethic of someone that just got out of a prison camp. While the guy had no authority in the computer lab he wanted to institute new rules and regulations about doing a job that involved simply helping students and delivering cows (computers on wheels).
As I got older I met more and more people that were involved in the military life, and like with any other label this society has I learned that there are varying degrees of what you get out of it or how much it really changes you. One thing that is a common theme is that they understand cooperation and goals better than most people. You would think Corporate America has the concept of “teamwork” on lock-down but it could not be further from the truth… finger-pointing and “CYA” but that is for another day, another post.
I have great conversations with the people that have served this country and another common theme is that they don’t understand why the country is going to the crapper… and I often feel like saying, well its because its all about how much do I have and how much more can I consume. I don’t like arguments that don’t change the situation so I keep it to myself. I do feel a little bit guilty that so many are fighting for “freedom” but in reality this country goes more and more towards the complete consumerism that is satirically displayed in the movie idiocracy.
I am at a point in life that I agree with the sentiment of Emerson that “moral intuition is a better guide to the moral sentiment than religious doctrine.” The truth in morality is always intuitive or there would be no people in position of power with their hands in the cookie jar. I wish that people realized that to help our society we have to help others and quit this rat race that leaves everyone a loser.