Without the Kindness of Others, Where Would You Be?
Although I am not certain that the drive to be a “self made man/woman” is inherently American, I do know it is a strong and pervasive desire in our culture only, it is a desire based on false notions and an over exaggeration of our own self worth, not a desire or achievement based in reality.
I was raised, as many of my readers were, during a time of great expansion. Expansion in industry, thought/mind psychology, individuality, creativity and technology. It was strongly expected and instilled in us, at least from my personal experience and observation, that the only way to “go it” was alone. It was suggested (through excellent marketing techniques) that we: break away from the pack; make something of ourselves; be ALL we can be; discover our individuality; leave no stone unturned; strike it rich; and to be as independent as possible while doing so. In other words, it was our destiny and our duty to become a self-made man/woman! This was a tall order but times were different then and there was great hope and endless opportunity. We even believed it! We bought the party-line. People did discover their individuality. They also discovered countless needs and wants and desires that needed filling. Needs, wants and desires that helped them to express their newfound individuality of course, and, all this filling of people’s needs, wants and desires is what made up the primary GDP of my generation and that of the last 45 years…. that of the Service Industry!
Imagine for just a moment if you will a time when eating out 2-4 times a week was not the norm. Imagine a time when the only occasion a family would eat out would be on Christmas Eve or Easter brunch. Imagine never having a mani/pedi in your entire lifetime (to this day, my mom still never has.) Imagine not “needing” massages, facials, and shopping sprees on a weekly or monthly basis just to keep you sane. Imagine not having two cars (or six depending on the number of people in your household.) Imagine having only two or three dresses to choose from, not 20. Imagine not having your daily $4 cafe latte. Consider all the services that you use and rely on in order to make your life “better,” the ones you have grown to expect and also take for granted, and then consider all the people in this Country who have spent their lives in service to this great “need,” and also all those that have made a business out of filling these countless desires (cafes, nail salons, retail chains, restaurants, resort chains, etc.)…….do that, and you will understand what my generation was all about.
And yes, many people did strike it rich while servicing this endless need of the American public and many continue to do so today only, I assure you nobody ever did it alone. This was the one misnomer that could never be actualized as a part of the “self made man” equation because no matter how you slice it, unless you produced, bought and sold your own goods, somebody else was ALWAYS a piece of the puzzle. And, even if you did produce, buy and sell your own goods to yourself, the money to do so had to come from somewhere.
We often walk and talk with such pride about how “I” accomplished this or that, or how “so-and-so” rose above their obstacles to “make something of themselves,” which is all very impressive but again, nobody ever gets there (wherever that is) on their own.
No achievement is ever made without the help and kindness of others.
Without our parents who fed and clothed us, and our teachers who worked hard at educating us, and our friends who helped to shape our character, and the people who believed in us and gave us our first job, and the mentors who believed in us when no one else did, and the people who grow our food, and the people who distribute our food to the stores who sell us our food, and the people who built our roads, and the scientists who invented and perfected electricity, and the computer nerds who invented and perfected (still in progress) technology, and the people who buy the goods we make or the services we provide, and the people who make us laugh, and the people who’s shoulder we cry on, and the people who care for us when we grow old or sick or assist us in our death, where exactly would we be?
Have you ever thought about that? Have you ever looked at your life in this way? In actuality, without the help and kindness of others, we would not survive.
So, next time you’re feeling accomplished or proud or perhaps when you’ve had a great stroke of success, take a moment to think of everyone who helped you along your way, and rather than selfishly taking all the credit, spread some of that love around. On second thought, why wait? Spread some of that love and appreciation around right now…….for all that you have, for all that you’ve gained, for all that you are right now…..today.
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” ——Lao Tzu