This I Believe
Every time I drive across our country I contemplate the hardships faced by those who settled the American West in covered wagons. They endured and overcame wide rivers, bad weather, huge distances, hostile Indians, poor or no health care, mind numbing tedium and more. And, after months of crossing prairie they got to Colorado or Montana and ran into the Rocky Mountains. I find it easy to picture days of wagon riding while watching the mountains grow nearer and larger and can almost hear a frustrated wife chide, “OK Mr. Traveling Man how are we going to get over those?”
To me, the people who settled this country, from sea to sea, are the embodiment of self-reliance, self-confidence and positive attitude. They counted on their own abilities and little else. On the way from St. Louis to San Francisco there were no restaurants, no hospitals and no rest areas with clean rest rooms stocked with quilted, three ply Charmin.
I believe that individuals teaming together to achieve a common goal is often a great strategy. However, when the team fails, I can not blame the team, I must accept that I did not do what was necessary to make the team wise enough or strong enough to achieve its goal.
When I contrast the self-sufficiency traits of our forefathers with our current social norms, I am disappointed and driven to achieve greater levels of freedom from the need to count on others. It is my job to find the best employment that I can. It is my responsibility to have my family ready to survive hardship, whether a hurricane, a winter storm, a flood or illness. It is my burden to repair damage and my challenge to adapt as needed. It is my job to live and to move ahead.
I believe that, in being born, I am ordained to be the master of my own fate. I succeed or fail on my merits. I feed or starve, grow or wane through my efforts. My family survives, or not, based upon the fruits of my efforts. I acknowledge that good luck can help, but it is my role to move ahead with or without luck. I embrace these responsibilities and find drive and ambition in the demands that they entail. I believe that self-sufficiency is an essential and defining human characteristic.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.