29 November 2011

Quote for the day on being self-reliant, rather than self-indulgent

We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles. – Miss Julia Coleman (high school teacher to Jimmy Carter)

Former President Jimmy Carter mentioned this quote in his inaugural address to the country. Then, as now, America faced considerable economic troubles and societal turmoil.

Likewise, this quote is especially relevant to us now, as we face such significant challenges to our our continued lifestyles and peace of mind.

As 2011 draws to a close, America seems to be suffering through some "changing times" that can be very threatening on a personal level. We live in an unpredictable world, which seems increasingly perilous at every turn. The year 2010 set a record for declared disasters in the USA, and this year has already beaten that record. On top of that, we're living in one of the most challenging economic periods in history, to say nothing of the increasing threat of global terrorism.

At the same time, all too many people are ever-more self-indulgent. They only worry about their individual needs, wants, and desires. Often, people satisfy their need for instant gratification or self-expression, even if it negatively impacts others.

One recent example of this is the almost-routine chaos and even violence of the recent Black Friday sales across the US, as depicted in these 10 videos. These shoppers didn't hold to any higher, guiding principles — rather, they gave into their base desires and pushed, shoved, and yelled as though their lives depended on getting whatever merchandise they were after. Sadly, the situation would probably be far worse if their lives did depend on the sale.

These shoppers failed to focus on things that truly matter (such as courtesy to others or even their own safety). Instead, they gave in to the siren call of the latest marketing message, letting them know that they can't truly be happy, satisfied, or successful without that product.

Another recent example is Emma Sullivan's comments about Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. Sure, Ms. Sullivan is still in her teens, but as a senior in high school (and presumably taking a Government class), one would hope for a bit more decorum.

This article touts this as a First Amendment/free speech issue. To be sure, I fully support Ms. Sullivan's rights to express her opinions about our political leaders. However, I don't believe that freedom of expression is at odds with showing some respect and courtesy to elected officials. Certainly, we can say anything we please. Nevertheless, that doesn't relieve us from the need to be civil in our discourse.

Rather than this blatant self-indulgence, we must stay true to America's founding principles (namely, individual liberty, personal responsibility, Constitutionally limited government and the rule of law) in order to be truly self-reliant.

To a large degree, living in accordance with these concepts and principles can be summed up very succinctly. As cited by Anthony Wile:
Richard Maybury has done the best job I know of reducing it down to a managable number – two. That's it, two simple natural laws that make it very easy for anyone to checkmate their conscience before taking action. Here they are:
  1. Do all you say you are going to do.
  2. Do not encroach on other persons or their property.
Following these "unchanging principles" will help shoppers to not encroach on their neighbor's persons or property in a mad rush, and likely make people pause before speaking callously and encroaching on their neighbor in that manner.

Going a step further, we can really condense things one step further. The Golden Rule — Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you — really incorporates both of the above "natural laws."

Don't want to be shove, pushed, or hurt when shopping? Then don't do that to others. Do you prefer that other not talk in a crude, derogatory way about you? Perhaps it's best that you not do it to them, then.

We can be sure that times will continue to change, maybe for the worse. However, we can handle the changes better if we hold to the solid, unchanging principles that have served us well in the past.


  1. Great Site Atticus F! You have really stayed on top of your writing and I love your quotes!

    Your tips are very timely. I sure enjoyed reading how to re-season my cast iron skillet. It so needed it after Thanksgiving!

    Hobbit Queen

  2. Thanks for stopping by, HQ, and for leaving some nice comments. Good to see some more current updates on your bee blog!