Saturday, June 9, 2012

Two Visions

by Lynn Costello
These phrases represent just one of the fault lines that divide our two visions:  “We’re all in this together” and “Every man for himself.”

“We’re all in this together” implies cooperation, caring, companionship and an understanding that we are responsible for one another.  “Every man for himself” on the other hand implies selfishness, unsympathetic and uncooperative.  It might be worthwhile to go beyond the sound-bites and investigate the means and ends of these two philosophies.

The idea of being responsible for all others diminishes the individual and any responsibility or accountability he may have for his own actions.  In an attempt to achieve the greater good, or justice and fairness for the collective, it becomes necessary to take from some to give to others.  The end result as shown throughout history is equally distributed mediocrity.

“Every man for himself” is established human nature in that motivation stems first from self-interest.  Each man is set free to innovate, accomplish and invent while being held accountable for his actions and decisions which include reaching out to others in need.  His success in these endeavors secondarily benefits the community and sometimes the whole world.

Two examples of this are Benjamin Franklin and Bill Gates.  It was through Benjamin Franklin’s curiosity, persistence and often personal need that caused him to invent the Franklin stove, bifocals, his useful discoveries in electricity, associations like the American Philosophical Society and so much more.  All of his work and discovery benefited not only those in the colonies but the entire world and for generations to come.

The same can be said about the works of Bill Gates whose creations and innovations have not only touched our lives, but improved them.  In the process, a multitude of jobs and careers began which themselves contributed to the benefit of society.  The Gates Foundation has provided substantial resources to improve education and healthcare around the world effecting millions of lives.

The journey for each of these men was driven by desires within.  If we are to celebrate and benefit from the greatness that comes along, we must also respect its uniqueness.  Perfect equality should not be our goal, but rather individual freedom.

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