Where Is The Drive And Willingness To Fail?
So over the last couple of years I have had more than my fill of doctors and health care providers. I have been blessed that the vast majority of those individuals have been extremely competent, but, regardless of how much training and experience they have, the bottom line is that they are still human and still fallible.
The same goes for the tests that I have been through. Last year my oncologist in Joplin made the comment to me that the tests I just had in Houston weren’t always accurate. That was reassuring. The same applies to my last checkup when the radiologist used the words “think,” “might,” “maybe,” and “a little.”
The other reality is that we are not the only patients that these doctors treat. And when you see multiple doctors for different reasons, the left hand doesn’t always know what the right hand is doing. This can make for some very serious problems if we are not on top of our own treatment plans and the routine testing that needs to be conducted. So, the point is that we are ultimately responsible for insuring that we are getting the right advice from the right sources at the right time.
You might think that this column is about health care and the perils of our health system, but it’s not. I’m just using this as an example of how we have to be responsible for looking out for ourselves. In the case of our health, the vast majority of us don’t understand medi- cal lingo, so we end up just saying “Whatever you say” and we aren’t proactive in asking questions and getting answers.
Ditto in our society, and that brings me to the real point of my ramblings. Way too many people in this country today just go along their merry ways, expecting the government to take care of all their problems - hence the reason a self- identified Socialist is getting real support from American voters.
Our country was once known for its rugged independence and we rewarded people for hard work. America became great because of the willingness of people to take risks and tempt failure. With great risk comes the possibility of great success and yes – great failure. It is said that it is not important how many times you fall down but rather how many times you get up.
The greatest success comes when you fail repeatedly only to stubbornly push on until you ultimately succeed. And sometimes success is a failure and failure is a success. Many times the end is not as important as the effort that you put forth in the quest to succeed.
That drive and willingness to fail is what we are now missing in this country. We have become a society that embraces mediocrity and dependence on someone else to provide for our needs. There is a commercial for one of the satellite television providers that uses a family of “settlers” who settle for something besides their product. That’s what many in this country have become — “settlers.”
It seems that today’s mantra is “everyone is a winner.” Even youth teams that finish last often receive “trophies of participation” lest their self- esteem is somehow damaged. Let me let you in on a little secret: there are winners and losers in what we call the game of life. And, just as in success and failure, losing is not always a loss and there can be victory in losing and disgrace in winning.
Ultimately we are responsible for our lives and our decisions — not our parents and, contrary to what many espouse, not the government. In just 50 years time, JFK’s quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country,” has been subverted to “What can my country do for me?”
There is hope for our nation, but not as long as we turn first to the government to solve our problems and take care of our lives. In my way of belief, government exists to provide things for us that we cannot do for ourselves — such as roads and schools — and to keep us safe – police, fire, and the military. I believe we do have an obligation to take care of those that truly cannot take care of themselves. Note that I used the term “cannot” and not the term “will not.”
If we can ever get beyond the bombastic rhetoric from both sides of the political aisle, then I believe this year’s presidential election could become a referendum on that very issue of who is responsible for our own lives. The real question we have to ask is if JFK’s words have become hollow and meaningless in the America of 2016.