I have made my vow to avoid political discourse this year till the day before the November election, but I’m not gonna make it (and I wasn’t *really* serious…. I mean, not entirely….though I hate the vacuous and strident tones of American political discourse more than I hate middle-school bickering….which I hate very much).
If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be ’cause I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something: There are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.
Straight up: I think the attack on Obama’s speech is hearing something he isn’t saying. To insist that a single person can on their own create success is foolish and IMHO contra-biblical. American individualism is not necessarily a virtue.
I’m not here to defend Obama but I’m really tired of conservatives idolizing Ayn Rand. I think her ideas are dangerous and, above all, against the tenor of Gospel thinking.
I don’t really care whether Obama is referring to religious help or social or whatever. I just have to scratch my head and wonder exactly what people are angry about. I read the speech. I agree with him. My success as [anything] rests on the shoulders of many people who individually invested in my life PLUS the work of countless others who built the systems, institutions, and infrastructure which enable “success” for the average American.
Does that negate the requirement that I work to improve my skills, to get a job, to get an education? Of course not. But admitting — in fact, embracing — the reality that American individualism is a myth, and often a harmful one doesn’t deny individual responsibility.
As a Christian, I have to balance being a good citizen of this country with being a good citizen of the Kingdom. So I reject Rand’s philosophy as contra-biblical on most counts, especially its self-centered individualism because I cannot reconcile that with Kingdom ethics. And that leads me to question whether America’s obsession with being self-made men is healthy at all.