One of my relatives was at a family reunion and he proudly stated firmly and unequivocally that all of his success was due to his hard work. There was chorus of disapproval and anger. The family had sacrificed for him to stay in school and then to go to college. There were times when he struggled in his career and again his family provided support. It caused a breach in the family that never quite healed.
I know where he got this idea. Popular culture. The idea of the lone wolf struggling against all odds, the lone man facing fate along, and all that other crap. It’s very romantic, Ayn Randian stuff. Of course, we are, in a sense, alone but really we are creatures of our culture and our time. We stand on the shoulders of giants ever dependent on the philosophies and ideas generated by our ancestors and our endeavors are smoothed by the cooperation of our fellow citizens.
I suppose I should be beguiled by the idea of myself as a lone hero, a Western style avenger fighting for right. But the fact is, there is a certain pleasure in coming from Locust Grove, Oklahoma, and by some measurement having made good. I remember where I came from and the many kindnesses extended to me and the occasional cruelties as well.
I don’t understand the “I did it all” mentality. When I drive to work, I realize that I didn’t pay for the road save in some small share. My car is constructed in accordance with federal regulations which means unlike vehicles in the 1950’s and before, my little vehicle will enable me to survive most crashes. I work in a state institution, a cooperative endeavor financed over time by millions of citizens. Etc.
I don’t like the “I did it all” mentality. It seems to me that it inevitably leads to evading responsibility to help others and to be part of the community – the state and the nation will take a back seat to self interest. Self interest has its place but it’s not the only thing to take into consideration. I am a patriot and I believe in my fellow Americans. We like to think we all are but the fact is the number of Americans renouncing their citizenship to evade taxes is growing every year. They are traitors to their country.
Please read the article below, the author eloquently explains that lone wolf scientist is really a figment of the fiction writer’s agile mind rather than a real character.
A popular misconception we’re often confronted with is the idea that successful business people somehow made it through their own hard work, graft and smarts. …