Is Self-Reliance Dead?

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self-reliant-womanWhat has happened to America? As a society, there have been some significant changes in my not-so-long life. Things like “the golden rule” used to be taught both in the home and in school, but the prevalence of road rage and the utter absence of simple acts such as holding the door for the person behind you are evidence of its demise. People used to be concerned nearly as much about their fellow citizens as they were about themselves. People used to be somewhat self-sufficient, and were taught real world skills even as early as grade school. Where did that country go?

This struck me last night while having a conversation with a coworker. He was telling me that his teenage son, who had two years of high school auto shop under his belt, did not know how to check the oil level in his truck or even add air to a low tire. For TWO years, he and his classmates had been learning nothing more than how to do a brake job. Now, apply that to inability to do simple tasks to all of society. How many people these days are unable to do such simple tasks themselves? How many people are unable to change the spare tire on their car? Repair a leaky pipe? Replace a broken fence post?

Seventy years ago, during WWII, practically no American would have dreamed of calling someone to fix a leaky sink, or to wait for a tow truck to put on their spare tire. Besides the expense and delays in waiting for someone else to repair it, they knew the importance of being able to do things themselves. To be able to care for oneself. The value of self-reliance.

America has bred and educated the self-reliance out of society. Anytime people find themselves in the situation where something is broken or in need of repair, the majority of Americans now pick up a phone instead of a tool. This lack of self-reliance translates into many other aspects in society. People no longer feel the need to resolve their own conflicts. They call a counselor or the cops to make things better. People no longer feel like they are responsible for their own safety and security. They think it is appropriate to expect government to provide that for them.

I think society as a whole needs to step back and reevaluate our priorities. Mike Rowe from the show Dirty Jobs wrote a letter to both Obama in 2008 and more recently to Romney in 2012 (Mike’s Letter) in which he voiced similar concerns. America has undervalued hard work for some time, and now it is starting to bite us in the butt.

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