What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Some folks wonder why the US of A is going to hell in a handcart. Lots more don’t know our destination, but want to get there faster.

The photo above shows a quote alleged to have originated with Harry S. Truman. While I can’t verify its source, I will most certainly comment on its relevance and ideology. Its relevance lies in the fact that it seems like a solid, individualistic ideology, and individualism is part of the American Dream, right? After all, weren’t our Founding Fathers rugged individualists? You bet! And they proved it by refusing to let King George’s England push them around. Right?

Well, sort of. Cynics will tell you, “It was the economy, stupid,” because Great Britain, viewing the colonies as revenue producers, gave no thought to the colonists’ quality of life and taxed them mercilessly. But that’s only half the story. Most of our Founding Fathers believed in Biblical morality, and many of them were committed Christians, objecting to Great Britain’s excesses on Biblical grounds. So, “potayto-potahto,” right? My point is, in view of the great ideological and moral variety among those men, they managed to overcome their differences and ratify the Articles of Confederation, the Declaration of Independence, and the United States Constitution. So much for individualism.

Lest I over-generalize, individuality and individualism aren’t the same. The first is a quality that everyone shares, while the second is a philosophy of life, and often simply a misguided attempt to prove ones individuality.

One functional definition of sin is, “Continuing to do what I think is right, whether God likes it or not.” I wonder if Truman included God in the anybody category. I know most people do, but the Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14:12) I could loosely paraphrase that with, “God said, ‘My way, or the highway … to hell'”

Another trouble with individualism is, what I think is right depends on my insights, based on my own perceptions of the limited events and facts that grab my attention. It’s like getting involved in a squabble when I only know one squabbler’s side of the story. Foolish, right? It’s not just foolish, but stupid as well, yet most folks don’t hesitate to do exactly that.

So, unfettered individualism is both a foolish and a stupid way to govern your life. You might want to rethink your pride in your individualism, ’cause foolishness and stupidity aren’t exactly distinguished traits.


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