Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Matter of Convenience

My son's been two-wheeling on his bike for about three months now, and we've been riding to and from school every day.  He thinks it's "AWESOME!!!" because the bike rack is reserved for third through fifth graders (and he's a first grader) unless you ask the principal (which we did).  It's totally understandable, because who wants a first or second grader riding to school on their own?  We do it as a family, and the principal is OK with that, so he gets to be one of the cool kids, as far as he's concerned.
Since he's still new to bicycling, he isn't that confident about, well, anything other than straight.  He's getting better, but starting, stopping, turning all make him a tad nervous, which is good because frankly I sometimes wonder if he has any self preservation drive at all.  Typically, we ride as family with me in front, Kenny in the middle, and Dwight behind.  I usually get pretty far ahead, about a half a block, and then wait for them the stop signs to catch up.  Since he dislikes stopping and starting the most, and to speed things up, I try to time when I leave as close to when Kenny and Dwight pull up as possible.  He thinks that's pretty cool, too, and announces "That sure is convenient!" every time he can just kind of glide through an intersection.  We've tried explaining the idea of forethought and planning a few times now, but to no avail.  He attributes the ease of his riding to fortune, or sometimes his own skill, but never thinks that others might also play a part.  It's understandable; he is only six. 
So I have to wonder when the Republican National Committee will grow out of this phase.  Their convention theme of "We Built It" shows a similar logic pattern of ignoring others' contributions to individual success.  Employers did not build the workers they employ, and the skills those workers possess.  Entrepreneurs did not build our highways and roads and interstate system.  The railroads did, in fact, build the railroads, but on 200 mile swaths of land granted them by Congress, the unneeded parts of which could be sold to pay for the building process.  Plenty of research is courtesy of grants from the government, and not just crazy speed-of-ketchup studies- medicine, physics, computer science, chemistry, biology, and more all have made significant progress in the last fifty years due to public funds. 
Now, I'm not trying to say they haven't done anything, but there are plenty of factors that have allowed business to thrive in this country that have nothing to do with individual business owners.  I'm the daughter of a small business owner and entrepreneur, I grew up in that world.  Heck, I owned a small business myself for a few years, but when I didn't want to put the time into it, and had done with it what I wanted (mainly advocacy and education), I backed off of it and focused on my career (not blog writing, oddly enough, but biology teaching and research). But they need to have a little perspective, and recognize what others have done to help them get to where they are today. 
This is a society, a community, and we work together or we don't work.  No one can do everything that needs done by themselves, or at a profit.  And frankly, it's a lot better world- in my opinion- when we have friends and neighbors who are collaborating instead of competing.  It's better to work together than to fight with each other, that's just a waste of energy, time, and resources. 
I hope my son soon grows out of this "phase" and understands long term repercussions and empathy, and I hope the Republicans do, as well.  This is not Ayn Rand's world; Atlas is not all he's cracked up to be- he's a myth.

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