By Jim Hagarty
I have always been interested in mythical creatures.
Leprechauns, goblins, vampires, unicorns and whatever else the human imagination has been able to conjure up. I’m sure I’m leaving out a bunch of them. All of them have one thing in common: I have never met any of these beings.
Into that group I would like to toss another, more modern made-up entity: the self-made man.
The self-made man is as much a creation of fantasy as the others listed above. He or she does not exist anywhere in the world and never will, and yet so many people believe in this being. I have read about and even met people who claim to be self-made, but their claims have never been verified and, in fact, are completely bogus.
To begin with, I would like to argue that none of us had anything at all to do with the fact that we are here. Maybe that is an obvious point but a fact nonetheless. So we exist not because of any decision on our part but as a result of actions taken by others on our behalf. Right away, any illusion we are self-made might be a bit strained.
After that, it gets worse. Name one thing you can do that wasn’t taught to you by someone else. Even one thing. You can’t. Even when I write the words “you can’t”, I know that someone taught me the letters that make up those words and then the words themselves and then taught me to type and also how to use a computer.
Everything we do we have been taught to do with a few exceptions being the act of breathing and some other bodily functions. But if no one fed us after we were born, we would not be here. Throw into that equation the dozens of others along the way who have worked to keep us going including doctors and nurses and other specialists.
Now consider the self-made man. As the expression goes today, “He was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple.” He thinks that his current exalted status in the world is entirely due to his superior intelligence and hard work. Oh, he might give a bit of credit to God and in an honest moment, his wife, but he never hesitates to make it clear who deserves all the credit for his amazing success and that person is himself.
There is a woman senator from Massachusetts who someday will probably be president of the United States. In a speech a few years ago she challenged those wealthy business people in her country who have nothing but contempt for anyone who has not rose to their level. So you built a factory, she said. Good for you. And you made a lot of money from the things that factory produced. But the people who built those things were educated not by you but by the American taxpayer and by their parents. The roads leading to your factory and upon which your trucks shipped your goods were financed by taxpayers. Taxpayers also paid for the firefighters who kept your factory from burning down and police officers who prevented it from being robbed and vandalized. Taxpayers also helped you find markets for your goods and in the end, those same people bought the goods your factory produced.
This woman’s name is Elizabeth Warren and I believe her speech can still be found on YouTube. She is an amazing person. In 10 minutes she can speak more truth than 700 Congressmen can manage to come up with in a decade of babbling.
The only sentiment worthy of “successful” people is gratitude for all the help and breaks they have had along the way. Any other attitude is self-congratulatory crap.
So the next time you hear of or read about some haughty jerk who is critical of our “welfare state” or of programs that help the “needy”, think about how “needy” that person has also always been from the day he or she was born and how if it had not been for others, they would have never made it out of the crib.
There is an assault by some of the rich (not all) in North America right now on those in society who have not been so fortunate and fortunate the wealthy certainly have been because luck has a lot to do with it. This campaign is immoral and should be decried at every opportunity.
Without Walter Gretzky and his backyard rink, there is no Wayne Gretzky. Without black street musicians whose music he popularized, there is no Elvis Presley. Without Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, there is no computer and Internet for me to transmit this writing to you.
Rich people who get it give away their billions or at least put their money to some good use. Those who don’t send out the military to keep those who complain about inequality quiet.
Beware the self-made among us. They not only annoy us, they are a threat not to be taken lightly.
Scientists finally were successful in creating a human being from the ground up and so one day they convened a conference with God to tell Him that He wasn’t needed any more, that they had cracked the code of Creation. God asked them to show Him how they could create a human and so they went outside to gather up some earth to begin the process.
“Not so fast,” said God. “First, get your own dirt!”