Self-sufficiency / by kevin murray

Many people believe that America was founded and succeeded with a lot of grit, hard toil with diligent labor, and a benevolent helping hand from our Great Provider.  While this is ultimately true for the most part, it didn't start out that way as the Pilgrims upon creating the Plymouth Colony in 1620, were seeking to create a socialist utopia in which all shared equally in a communal society in which the population joined together in growing crops, hunting, washing, feeding, child rearing, and creating shelter.  While on the surface this seems to be a formula for equality and justice, in practicality, the Pilgrims were barely able to sustain themselves, and so in 1623, as chronicled by William Bradford, the land was divided up into parcels and each family was given dominion over its own area and its progeny.  Bradford wrote: "This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious… The women now wente willingly into the feild, and tooke their litle-ons with them."


The primary reason the Pilgrims went from starvation to a successful and striving community is that they now had incentives to take responsibility for their own welfare, for their own success, and the impact of their success or lack of, would be immediately noticed in their bellies, in their family, and on their property.  On the surface, it seems fair, that all of God's nature should be shared equally but when you find that your hard work is being shared with peoples that have done nothing to contribute to it, and have no interest in doing their part, despite their capacity to do so, your work ethic, your desire to push yourself through dangerous conditions, bad weather, or poor health, is severely diminished. 


On the other hand, give a man an incentive, gave a man 'skin in the game', and you will see the mark of that man.  Yes, not everyone is capable of doing certain work because of their health, their mind, their abilities, or their age, but each person is capable of doing something of worth.  For instance, on a farm, children are quite capable of milking cows, collecting eggs, and tending the vegetable patch, while older adults can cook, give wisdom, and sew.   Teamwork consists of various members working together for a common goal or purpose.  When you are responsible for your own success, when you know that it is you that must answer the call, you will do so, tired or not, strong or not, hungry or not.  You will do so because you know the consequences for repeated failure and this is something that you will make all efforts to avoid.


America has fallen far away from its ideal of self-sufficiency.  Certainly, if you tell virtually anyone, even those that have to date worked hard, have high intelligence, or are diligent, that you don’t need to do a thing, you don't need to study, you don't need to push or test yourself, that 'daddy' or 'mommy' or 'big government brother' will take care of anything and everything for you, this will change you for the worst.  This will put you on a path of complacency and laziness, and when you find that the silver spoon has been taken or wrested away from your mouth, you won't have a clue what to do except perhaps to have a temper tantrum and hope that the world will continue to cater to you.