Wednesday, February 9, 2011
© 2011, the Institute for Applied Common Sense
One thing we’ve learned during the past 3 years - when we suggest people are responsible for their own, individual crap, we generally receive no responses, or oblique ones.
In a recent post, we referred to the “malaise speech” made 30 years ago by President Jimmy Carter. In it, he suggested that America was experiencing a crisis in confidence, and needed to get back to basics to renew our enthusiasm.
In our view, this was just another way of saying that we were not living up to our responsibilities as citizens, which translated to our responsibilities as a nation.
One of our followers suggested that the problem with the President’s speech was that he didn’t inspire the citizens at the time. We initially thought that his response fell in the oblique sluice.
What followed was a discussion about whether all leaders should have the ability to inspire others, effectively manage the shop, or perhaps a little of both.
We must admit that we initially dismissed the possible role of inspiration in encouraging people to be responsible. We joked to ourselves that Hollywood Bad Kids, Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen, not only need to decide to participate in substance abuse programs, but also be sufficiently “inspired” by someone else to do so, so that Hollywood might be able to place confidence in them again.
It also reminded us of how many Baby Boomers, while kids growing up, had our asses whipped by our parents as part of the development of our sense of responsibility, and how it might have also constituted “inspiration.” [Of course, these “expressions of love” were inflicted prior to kids being able to threaten their parents with child abuse allegations.]
We then realized that, in some instances, motivation and inspiration might be synonymous.
We’ve been wrestling with this inspiration – responsibility tag team all week now.
Over the weekend, we saw a tweet which made us laugh. We e-mailed it to a group of friends, mentioning that it was from the “We Simply Could Not Resist File.” It read:
“What Egypt needs now is a tax break for the rich to stimulate job creation.”
Without addressing whether “inspiration” can be the equivalent of “stimulation,” one recipient responded, “I thought that such a tax break already existed, and that it was called the ‘American Foolish Dependency on Middle East Oil Act.’”
This, and our follower’s comment about inspiration, led us to rethink a few points we raised in comments to our two prior posts, whose theme was, a nation is only as responsible as its most irresponsible citizen.
Is it the responsibility of our leaders to inspire us to eat healthier foods and exercise? Save more of our income? Invent new technologies? Better educate ourselves? Or even reduce our dependence on foreign oil?
We’re going through a period of turbulence right now, and President Obama is the Captain of the Big Ship Lollypop.
Does he provide a sense of comfort amongst the citizens? Should it be a requirement of the position?
In the minds of some, the President needs to allay our current concerns. It is reasonably clear that he has not been able to do that, either domestically or internationally. [Should he be willing to lie to us to accomplish that goal?]
One thing that makes his job difficult is that there are so many people sniping at him, and second guessing his decisions. This is not a matter of whether the criticism is justified or not. It simply is what it is. A significant segment of society dislikes him intensely, which arguably bears on, or reflects, his ability or inability to inspire.
We are reminded that in the military, one can not openly criticize or question a superior officer, and there are good reasons for that. It potentially undermines the authority of the officer to accomplish the mission, and can adversely affect the morale of the troops. Is there an analogy with respect to the President, no matter who is in the office?
This past Sunday on Meet the Press, David Gregory gave us a glimpse into the soon-to-open Reagan Library. His tour guide was Peggy Noonan, one of the primary speech writers to former President Ronald Reagan.
She revealed something which the American public has never seen – the suit which President Reagan wore on the day that John Hinckley shot him, gunshot hole and all.
As the President was being wheeled into the OR, he quipped, “I hope that you all are Republicans,” referring to the surgical team.
The Chief Surgeon, reportedly a staunch Democrat, without hesitation, responded, “Today, Mr. President, we’re all Republicans.”
Maybe, just maybe, we all need to be on the same team as responsible citizens, inspired by our President or not.
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