Wednesday, January 1, 2014


There is a popular notion of the rugged individual, the self-made man, who through tenacity and hard work achieves incredible success (usually measured by monetary worth).  This idea is admired and held up to us my many serious conservative politicians today with the inference that those who are poor or otherwise financially devastated simply have not worked hard enough to rise above their circumstances.
This view is as correct, as it is incorrect. 

Success, no matter how it is measured (and that is subject that requires its own discussion), usually does require tenacity and hard work.  It doesn’t simply happen by itself.  Even those individuals with the good fortuned to have been born into mega successful families must work hard to continue the family enterprise.  But there is something that is missing from this praise of the self-made man and it is this; with few exceptions the rugged individual admired by so many conservatives is someone who has worked hard to take advantage of his or her opportunities, opportunities for which they cannot take credit

What are these opportunities?   Growing up in a stable and loving family and a culture that values work and education.  Receiving a genetic inheritance that provides emotional in intellectual stability, and a childhood free of poverty and crime.   Add to this the availability of education.  These are the foundation on which success can be achieved, and they are given to us or denied us at birth.  They are ours not by any effort or choice on our part.

Are there exceptions?  Of course.  I’m sure there are individuals who overcame the lack of these opportunities to create a successful life for themselves, and I’m just as sure that they are indeed exceptional individuals.

I believe the successful life is achieved by working hard to take advantage of the opportunities available to us. .  We can take credit for the hard work.  But should be equally humble and grateful for the opportunities we were given.  This humility is absent in the current public dialog.

Two who were blessed with opportunites

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