|Hammer hits lessons of self-reliance|
Sometimes our little newspaper that could does political endorsements, sometimes we don't. The key is whether or not we legitimately have information to share that we believe relevant and important. With some recent changes in staff, we didn't feel like we had enough pertinent information to share this time around so we decided to hold off on endorsing any candidate.
In the spirit of transparency and sharing, I was planning on writing a little bit about how all this works. It starts with some high-level meetings. Typically, these occur on Saturdays when the office is quiet and there are very few interruptions. In fact, I was preparing for just such a meeting, tidying up the conference room (i.e., emptying the trash) when I turned around and ran nose-to-chest straight into John Hammer.
"Dag! Nab! It! John!" I spit out. Hammer may make two of me (and unlike me, his body fat percentage is a number well below his age) but when he just about spooks me into cardiac failure I tend to spout off before thinking.
"Can you just give a cough or clear your throat or something before I end up falling over dead because you scared me to death?" I yelled. "It's bad enough that you get up here when the building is locked up tight, but do you have to make it a point to sneak up on me as well?"
Hammer just looked at me. Clearly, my main concern wasn't his.
"Been thinking, Timmons," he began. "I ran across a quote from Roosevelt when he was talking about the square deal. You know what the square deal is, don't you Timmons?"
"Of course I do," I shot back. Hammer may have scared the bejeezus out of me but I certainly know my American history. "The square deal was a foreign program from FDR that-"
"Yeah, you're almost right, Timmons," Hammer cut in. "Except it was Teddy, not Franklin and it was domestic, not foreign. Other than that, you got it."
"Anyways," Hammer continued, "the old Rough Rider said, 'I do not like hardness of heart, but neither do I like softness of head.' Seems to me we've gotten about as far away from that as possible."
I wasn't going to hazard another wrong answer so I just nodded.
"We are becoming a society where we don't depend on ourselves anymore."
Since I sure as hell wasn't depending on my own knowledge, or lack thereof, I risked asking what he meant.
"We can't lose weight on our own," Hammer said. "We have to take a pill.
"We can't quit smoking on our own. We go out and get a patch.
"We can't pay our bills on our own. We have to use credit.
"Our kids and our grandkids can't figure out how to deal with bullies on their own. They have to get help.
"We can't deal with neighbors and others who are idiots, we have to get attorneys.
"Everywhere we turn, we're told that we can't do things on our own; that we need this or that to get something done. Hell, Timmons, we already have enough people who think they are entitled to things they haven't earned yet. Now we're teaching everyone that they can't do anything by themselves. It's killing us.
"Tell me this, Timmons. When did we learn to stop depending on ourselves?"
Hammer looked at me. I looked back. I didn't have the answers he was looking for. Truth to tell, not sure anyone does.
"Timmons, I don't know much but I do know this. If we keep going like this, if we keep teaching kids that they are not responsible for themselves; if we let adults think that the ultimate answer and responsibility doesn't rest squarely on their shoulders then we're going to wake up one day and find out we really don't have choices anymore. I'm not sure if we hardened our hearts, but we surely have let our heads get soft."
Hammer walked away. Once again, I fear he's got it right.
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