The war against achievement
Self-reliance is out, victimhood is in
Afriend recently sent me a link to an inspiring video about an upbeat, young black man, Richie Parker, who was born without arms. It showed him going to work — unlike the record number of people living on government payments for “disabilities” that are far less serious, if not fictitious.
How is this young man getting to work? He gets into his car and drives there — using controls set up so that he can operate the car with his feet.
What kind of work does he do, and how does he do it? He is involved in the design of racing cars. He sits at his computer, looking at the screen, with the keyboard on the floor, where he uses his toes as others use their fingers.
His story recalls the story of Helen Keller, who went to an elite college and on to a career, despite being both deaf and blind. Her story was celebrated in books, in television documentaries and in an inspiring movie, “The Miracle Worker.”
But our culture has changed so much over the years that the young man with no arms is unlikely to get comparable publicity. Keller’s achievement was seen as an inspiration for others, but this young man’s achievement is more like a threat to the prevailing ideology of our times.
The vision on which the all-encompassing and all-controlling welfare state was built is a vision of widespread helplessness, requiring ever-expanding big government. Our “compassionate” statists would probably have wanted to take this young man without arms, early on, and put him in some government institution.
To celebrate him in the mainstream media today would undermine a whole ideological vision of the world — and of the vast government bureaucracies built on that vision. It might even cause people to think twice about giving money to able-bodied men who are standing on street corners, begging.
The last thing the political left needs, or can even afford, are self-reliant individuals. If such people became the norm, that would destroy not only the agenda and the careers of those on the left, but even their flattering image of themselves as saviors of the less fortunate.
Victimhood is where it’s at. If there are not enough real victims, then fictitious victims must be created — as with the claim that there is a “war on women.” Why anyone would have an incentive or a motivation to create a war on women in the first place is just one of the questions that should be asked of those who promote this political slogan, obviously designed for the gullible.
The real war — which is being waged in our schools, in the media and among the intelligentsia — is the war on achievement. When President Obama told business owners “You didn’t build that,” this was just one passing skirmish in the war on achievement.
The very word “achievement” has been replaced by the word “privilege” in many writings of our times. Individuals or groups who have achieved more than others are called “privileged” individuals or groups, who are to be resented rather than emulated.
The length to which this kind of thinking — or lack of thinking — can be carried was shown in a report on various ethnic groups in Toronto. It said that people of Japanese ancestry in that city were the most “privileged” group there, because they had the highest average income.
What made this claim of “privilege” grotesque was a history of anti-Japanese discrimination in Canada, climaxed by people of Japanese ancestry being interned during World War II longer than Japanese Americans.
If the concept of achievement threatens the prevailing ideology, the reality of achievement despite having obstacles to overcome is a deadly threat. That is why the achievements of Asians in general — and of people like the young black man with no arms — make those on the left uneasy. It’s why the achievements of people who created their own businesses have to be undermined by the president of the United States.
What would happen if Americans in general, or blacks in particular, started celebrating people like this armless young man, instead of trying to make heroes out of hoodlums? Many of us would find that promising and inspiring. It would be a political disaster for the left, though, which is why it is not likely to happen.
When I was a teenager, we loved to play baseball, and in my neighborhood there were two teams. Both of them were quite good, but they were bitter rivals. It was not uncommon for fights to break out when they played each other. On one very memorable day, a very boastful team from another neighborhood challenged our neighborhood to a game. Their team was quite formidable by reputation, and neither of our teams would likely have been able to beat them. We decided to put aside our differences and use our strongest players to form one neighborhood team to take up the challenge. It was one of the most memorable games in my life, and we absolutely slaughtered the competition. That was the beginning of many lasting friendships and the end of an unproductive rivalry.
The reason for the great success of our new neighborhood team was a recognition that we were much stronger when we combined our forces and stopped fighting each other. Is there a lesson to be learned here by those individuals who represent all Americans in both houses of Congress, the executive branch and the Supreme Court?
The 14th verse in the 11th chapter of the book of Proverbs states that there is safety in the multitude of counselors. This means that you are much more likely to be successful if you’re willing to listen to an array of opinions regarding an important decision. The health and well-being of all American citizens is an extraordinarily important issue, and now that the health plan that was put forth by only one party has been shown to be fatally flawed, it may be a very good time to put aside our
AAAdifferences and combine our strengths to accomplish a very worthwhile goal.
There is no question that we need health care reform, but there is a major question about whether it should be something that is imposed upon the people by a government that thinks it knows what is best for everyone, or whether it would be better to create a system that preserves the freedom of choice and liberty of all Americans?
Usually when a complex issue is tackled, it is wise to define the basic goals of everyone involved. I think it would be wise for a health care reform plan to include the following:
medical and surgical coverage for every single American.
Responsibility for health care remaining in the hands of the patient and the caregiver without interference from the government or some third party.
freedom to choose the type of insurance plan that fits the personal needs of each individual and family.
mechanism to take care of catastrophic health issues and chronic debilitating conditions.
mechanism (which most countries have) to provide for individuals who sustain injuries from medical treatments that does not require complex and expensive legal involvement.
way to pay for all of it in a manner that involves everyone on a proportional basis.
I am aware of several plans that have been offered and can provide an excellent basis to begin discussing something that works for everyone. Let’s stop saying there is only one way and that no one else has a plan. Such remarks are false and counterproductive.
We must have open minds as we look at alternatives and recognize that we as Americans can be extremely creative and have a long history of producing spectacular answers for complex problems. If we relinquish pride and party affiliation and proceed openly while welcoming public scrutiny, we can get this done quickly. In the interim, we must provide a bridge of insurance for those individuals and families who lost the coverage they had as a result of Obamacare. The law was a costly mistake, but at least it started us on the road to much-needed health care reform, and its authors should be proud of that fact.
As we solve this problem, and I know we will, let us remember that many of the people who preceded us in this nation gave everything they had, including their lives, in order that we might be free. Many of their ancestors came here from other parts of the world in order to escape societies that told them what they could say and what they could not say, where they could live, what they could do for a living, how much money they could make, what they had to buy, as well as a variety of other controls.
Whether we are Democrats, Republicans or independents, we must not forget that we cannot simply impose our will on our fellow citizens, no matter how noble we believe our cause to be. That is always the initial, tainted seed for the establishment of a totalitarian government. Let us learn from this experience and move on in a united fashion to solve this and the many other problems that face our nation.