Having traveled long distances on a bicycle and had the opportunity to spend hours alone with my thoughts, it was easy for me to feel that I was there, all alone with God.
I believe that this is a good prospective from which to start to judge our modern day world and institutions. Because, without digging down this deep, we cannot be totally genuine about an interest in an unbiased perspective.
David was the King of Israel, the killer of Goliath, the writer of much of what we call the book of Psalms in the Bible. David started out as a shepherd. He had the benefit of having many hours to be totally alone with God. This time was not easy. There were bears and lions, cold miserable nights without shelter – a great time to curse God, if you would, and yet David had a fierce loyalty, a kindred spirit with God. It was said that David was a “man after God’s own heart”.
David is the closest thing to Adam, the first man, with which we can identify. It is David that wrote, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” These were not empty words for David. He must have meditated, contemplated them for hours, repeated them to himself often, throughout his life, from the start, from his very humble beginnings.
Regardless of our religious persuasion, we must be able to identify with a time when man was there all by himself with God. It was called the Garden of Eden, peaceful, abundant, care free.
Then man started screwing it up. He started using his liberty, his freedom, to choose between right and wrong, to do something that God did not want him to do. He used his liberty to choose an aberration over a balanced fellowship with his maker. And, we are told that, once he had done this, he tried to hide from God.
I can’t help but be reminded of the power of pornography and its domination of the Internet. Men and women hide in the hope that they will not be found out, that they have to acknowledge the powerful almost uncontrollable effect of lust. We have not changed. We still believe that we can hide from God … or just proclaim that He is not there. Ah, that’s simpler isn’t it?
Today you hear a lot about the importance of institutions. The individual has been reduced to a vote, a means by which a party can implement a platform which, in all earnestness, lacks much relevance to that individual. He is a consumer. His desires and weakness are constantly evaluated and exploited by the manipulators. Government, media, enterprise. There is little respect for the individual.
But, man does not exist for the institutions but rather the institutions exist for man. Don’t they?
This is where we start. If you want to seriously evaluate modern day models for education, governance and industry, you must start at their relevance to the individual.
One of the champions of the late bloomers is Colonel Harland David Sanders who reportedly founded Kentucky Fried Chicken at the age of 70! Actually, it was much earlier than that, in 1952. He was 62. But, probably the legend is more related to the fact that its meteoric rise was only noted several years after he first started and most significantly when he sold the business to a group of investors in 1964 at which time he was 74.
One of our biggest failings in modern history is the notion of retirement.
It is the shared opinion of many experts that early retirement is one of the primary causes of Alzheimer’s and dementia. I will not waste space here relating the results of studies verifying its impact on longevity, but I need to look no further than to my own personal experiences to note the number of seemingly totally healthy associates who have died within months of retirement. The issues with alcoholism in retirement communities is legendary. Life is purposeless when it has lost its purpose. When it is no longer engaged in its work.
By the age of 70, most folks understand how unsatisfying accumulation, artificial stimulation, intoxication and even extensive travel can be. Having been through the crucible, they are better able to focus on the impact of decisions and events on others than being almost totally absorbed with fulfilling their own needs. This is when their leadership and perspective is most needed.
To install leaders in corporations with mandatory retirement dates and to incentivize them with stock options is only encouraging them to exercise short term and selfish thinking – to devise their own brand of golden parachutes which inevitably leave their constituents without work and short change investors.
The same might be said of politicians and their entry into public office which might seem to be more driven by the desire to sustain their jobs and gain their retirement benefits than to truly do what they are there to do. Public office has become an entry into a world of lucrative speaking engagements, under the table deals and cronyism. No one should allowed into public office who has not already provided well enough for his or her own needs without having to use the office for economic enhancement. Our leaders should not be incentivized to sell “the governed” short.
Graduating from college in 1938, my father was a product of the Great Depression. I am told that he wanted to work for J.C. Penney – the company and the man. The Synopsis in Bio says, “J.C. Penney was an American businessman born on September 16, 1875 in Caldwell County, Missouri. He worked at a dry goods store where he learned the business and eventually opened his own store in 1902. He expanded to 175 stores by the time he retired in 1917. He stayed active behind the scenes at the company to help plan the chain’s future. During the Great Depression, his stores survived by offering a good value to customers on a budget. He was a member of the company’s Board of Directors until his death on February 12, 1971.” The Great Depression began in 1929 and lasted into the early ‘40’s and the 2nd World War. J.C. Penney was there when the company and the country needed him.
Our institutions have wandered far from their responsibility in protecting public good. Our elders must be unselfish enough to recognize the importance of their role in providing guidance into the future; and, as with cultures before us, we need to relearn to respect the counsel of these people.
For someone growing up in the post Isaac Asimov world, the idea of a hostile robot is not hard to fathom.
For years in countries where unions are more part of the management of corporations and exist more as trade guilds – their purpose being less about protecting seniority and demanding higher wages – the delicate balance between the cost of labor and profitability has continued to be checked by the creation of robot type implements that replace many of the traditional jobs held by humans.
As a clear indicator that this technology will replace many existing jobs, a recent study by Georgia State’s Center for State and Local Finance (August 1016), points to the need for the State of Georgia to point its limited resources away from manufacturing jobs.
To quote directly from the study, “The report found that manufacturing jobs in Georgia declined by 27.5 percent between 2000 and 2014”. “’We’ve got limited resources,’ said David Sjoquist, an economics professor at Georgia State and the study’s author. ‘We’ve got to decide whether to spend them pursuing manufacturing or some other type of effort.’”
Amongst other factors such as outsourcing to low-wage workers in other countries, Sjoquist said, “technological developments … let manufacturers replace workers with robots. ‘Newer manufacturing requires highly skilled workers but fewer of them,’”.
Sjoquist encouraged that, “Rather than waiting for plants to close before offering training to unemployed workers, it suggests developing programs to prepare existing manufacturing workers for expected changes in required skill levels for new jobs.”
In other words, we need to preemptively retool our otherwise obsolete people.
When I recently purchased my used 2013 Toyota, I was amazed at the new gadgets that had been added since my 2004 model. After a week, I mastered most of the “skills” necessary to operate this phenomenon of modern science. However, I quickly learned that I no longer needed former skills like watching for columns and other automobiles as I navigated this machine through hostile parking deck obstructions. This wonder of modern science did this for me.
We need to realize that skills have limited value when it comes to long term survival. The ability to adapt is far more critical. This is where our focus should be. Teaching people to think rather than constantly training them in new skills.
In our efforts to create a better world, we have sought to lessen the pain of having to think.
After all, they might think that they would prefer to do something else.
Think about it.
Consumers often buy product based on their brand name. After all, it’s a “known commodity”.
Buyers of fine quality goods often do the same. After all, who could ever question the quality of a Rolls Royce or a Maserati, right? They’ve got to be good? Look at how much they cost!
The story is told of a couple in the city that were furnishing their home and, wanting to make wise decisions, sought out artwork and furnishings that, as best they could ascertain, would at least retain their value if not appreciate over time.
One of the objects that they needed was a Chester drawer. All of their research kept pointing them towards a brand that did not particularly look that much different than the other pieces of fine furniture that were available but, inevitably, received higher scores! Much to their surprise and delight, the manufacturer of this furniture happened to be located in a mountain area no more than an hour’s drive away from their home. This presented them with an adventure, a nice drive in the mountains, an opportunity for discovery!
Arriving at the address coordinated by GPS, they were less than overwhelmed by the simple building that awaited them. But, upon entering and explaining why they were there, they were introduced to the furniture maker himself.
They immediately explained their dilemma. What made his furniture so much better?
Leading them back into the work area where the furniture was produced, they came to a nearly completed Chester drawing. The artisan pulled a drawer from the chest that responded solidly and smoothly to his use of force. But, to their surprise without saying a word, the artisan removed the drawer and, turning it over, asked them to rub their hands across it to feel the finish. It was excellent. A real work of art.
“But, who would know?” asked the couple.
The furniture maker responded, “I would.”
As children, we had an unfinished basement. We had concrete floors in a portion of it, two doors, one leading outside and a second to the garage and steps that led upstairs to the kitchen. It was a great place to roller skate during the winter and do other fun stuff, like setting up boxes with which to practice with our bows and arrows – we didn’t own BB guns.
Christmas was always a time of great expectation. We checked off items in every Christmas toy catalogue that came along in hopes that we might get something that we really wanted.
You might imagine my surprise, at the age of 10, when my father led me down to the basement to show me my brand new workbench! I am not exactly sure where he got this idea – there were none shown in the catalogues. But, it was more common in those days to do things yourself, so I guess that he felt that it was high time that I set about learning to do this.
I later learned that it was with some great degree of nostalgia that my father had called his shop teacher from Atlanta’s Boys High (he was surprised to find him still alive, I suspect) and sought out the manufacturer of the very benches that he had learned from in “shop” class while in high school. He was very proud of my new gift.
It was a nice bench with a butcher block top – before these became cool – a wrench with which I soon learned that I could crush just about anything. It has a hammer, a saw, a crank drill, some screw drivers and a level-ruler with an angle on it which gave me the ability to mark a 45° or 90° angle on a piece of wood for sawing.
Dad had collected some pieces of scrap wood and some nails and set about showing me how to build an absolutely useless airplane. The training for the use of the hammer, saw and the angle ended at that point. Using a drill and a vice required absolutely no instruction at all – I spent hours boring holes in wood and crushing things.
In any event, given limited resources – primarily scraps of wood tossed aside at neighboring construction projects and articles retrieved from trash dumps (we lived in the country … city folk thought nothing of driving out and dumping their junk on the side of the road not far from where we lived), I set about creating a lot of different contraptions from seemingly nothing. I must have reused the wood from that airplane in 5 or 6 different projects before it had too many holes and splits to be useful for anything but firewood.
I became quite adept at the use of a hammer and a saw – I still enjoyed tinkering with this today. But, neither I nor my father became builders, carpenters or electricians – our interests were in following the paths of my forefathers in real estate. However, I have always felt a certain kindred spirit with these people and have always felt that, given a second chance, I might have gotten just as much satisfaction out of one of those careers as the one I chose – at least they can’t take their work home with them at night.
When I look back on the great gifts that were given to me by my father, this was possibly the greatest of all – the ability to create something with limited resources. I believe that this has contributed more to my success than most any other element of my upbringing!
I must add that, as a man created in the image of his Maker – the great creator, where I am not surprised that I have these abilities, I must be most thankful that He has given me the insight to employ them effectively in order to survive.