Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Put Up, Or Shut Up.

One of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain goes like this: “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”

Twain was adept at pointing out societal ills and making light of them–but the ills he spoke of were no less serious as a result of such jest.

Today, a wicked sense of entitlement permeates the air around Capitol Hill and our respective state, county, and local seats of government. This entitlement has reached Wall Street and the corporate wonderworld, is broadcast through our television sets and has become a part of our popular culture. And we Americans are serving up ever-growing servings of this egomaniacal sentiment at the dinner table (does anyone ever eat there anymore, anyway?) like it’s a casserole.

But that’s the American way, right? We want what we want–and we want it NOW. That’s why my casserole comment is irrelevant in today’s society–because you probably can’t even remember the last time you had a good, solid pan of the stuff, much less took the time to cook it. If it isn’t pre-made and doesn’t come in a disposable tin at Wal-Mart, you’re not buying it. But I digress…

I know you’re thinking, “Entitlements? You mean like Social Security and Medicare?” No, that’s not what I mean.

We are standing on a cliff. Below us, after a harrowing period of free-fall, is the demise of the American spirit and the reason for us to have an independent nation. Behind us is our country, however flawed, and the nearly two centuries of hard work and courage that have gone into forging it. The cliff we stand on is our economy. The wind at our back–which is growing into a fearsome gale, threatening our national existence–is this entitlement I speak of.

We are facing some economic tough times. There’s no mistaking that–times are tough for many Americans, and the injustice of a few corporate CEOs raking in millions of dollars while many will lose their homes and their jobs is perplexing to say the least.

But I have a problem with the national dialogue as it is today.

When the very first settlers arrived on this land, times were tough. You probably can’t even imagine it at this point, because your idea of “tough” is a shopping plaza without a Kinko’s or a dirt road that muddles the shine on your Honda Accord. Tough is watching six of your eight children die from typhoid and tuberculosis, losing your husband at age thirty-one, and sleeping every night on a bed of straw in your “house,” which is really nothing more than a drafty roof and a few makeshift walls.

There were leaders among the people back then who helped to unify and give direction to the community as a whole. But the one thing our national ancestors did not do was rely solely on these elected leaders to do their work for them. If their house blew over in the night, they didn’t sit and watch while it was rebuilt; they didn’t rely on their community leaders to gather the wood and tools for them. Sure, leadership was there to offer support, guidance, even help organize a working party to help–but the will do rebuild that house had to come from the owner.

FDR once said, “If you’ve come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” If your standard of living cannot keep up with your income or the times, that is OK. You are not a failure…you are not a failure because you are an American. And at the end of the day, even if you lose everything you have and everyone you love, you will always be an American.

Folks, we’re not great because of our economic strength. We are great because of the strength of our people. Get it? If, at Plymouth Rock and Jamestown, we acted then the way we are acting today in response to tough times, this land would still be a British territory.

I know you’re thinking, “Well, the times have changed. Technology has improved. We cannot run a 21st century nation with 17th century thinking.” Well let me say this to you: those towns we settled still stand. The Declaration and Constitution we wrote still live, unchanged, as some of the greatest documents ever written. We may have outgrown the sawmill, the washboard and the clothesline, but we have not ungrown those great American principles we must find within ourselves today:

Responsibility. Accountability. Courage to Dream.

These aren’t just pretty words and phrases–they’re just the blood and bone and sinew of this democracy! Live them and we will survive; ignore them and we will all fail, and the past 233 years of dreams and hopes and forging of something truly American will have been for naught.  


  1. but not true for everyone. In fact, I’m not so sure it’s even true of the majority. Sure, people have shorter attention spans now and they expect things to happen quicker, but that’s just a reflection of modern society. That’s not a change in human nature, it’s an acceptance of reality. Things change far faster today then they did in the old days.

    People try to balance the modern reality of constant change and instant news with a realization that some things, like a good meal or working your way up the ladder, take time.

    In those halcyon days mentioned in the diary, it took months for news to travel around the world. This reduced any sense of urgency for matters outside your immediate area. Today, that same news is flashed around the world in a matter of minutes and can be seen on youtube within a half-hour.

    Of course, we have a desire for things to happen as soon as possible. Take that casserole, for example, I’d love to be able to make real homemade Lasagna in 5 minutes, but I know if I want homemade it is going to take time. Sticking to the example of Italian food, I have a choice between making spaghetti with a jar of spaghetti sauce or making it from scratch. One takes less than 1/2 hour to put on the table. The other takes 2 1/2 hours. I generally choose the longer option.

    “That’s why my casserole comment is irrelevant in today’s society–because you probably can’t even remember the last time you had a good, solid pan of the stuff, much less took the time to cook it. If it isn’t pre-made and doesn’t come in a disposable tin at Wal-Mart, you’re not buying it. But I digress… ”

    I don’t think that thought was a digression, I think it was crucial to my point. We may have been conditioned by modern society to expect things to happen quickly, but we haven’t forgotten that some things take time.

    Maybe a list of our family meals for the last few nights will prove my point. Tonight’s meal was the quickest I’ve cooked in several days – pan broiled pork loin chops, scalloped potatoes (homemade) and green beans. Yesterday was chicken and dumplings from scratch. The day before was whole roast chicken, mashed ‘taters and homemade gravy. The day before that was homemade mac-n-cheese (a casserole). Tomorrow will be chicken pot pie (another casserole) and the day after will be venison chili. Nothing quick and easy in the bunch and nothing from China-mart.

    So while you have a point, I just don’t accept that it applies to the majority. It’s a common lament often offered up by the media, but I’ll wait until I see some proof that it actually reflects modern human nature.

  2. sricki

    Though I must say I quite like cooking casseroles on occasion — though mostly when I have company. Seems a bit pointless to cook a whole one for oneself. Guess I could freeze it, but I’m not terribly fond of freezing my food. ; )

    You said that you’re back — perhaps I was on sabbatical when you were here before? In any case, welcome. Most pleased to have you here.

  3. I can I just say that this American sense of self motivation, self help and adventure, is one of the GREAT things that separates the US from most of Europe, and why I love your country…

    Hey. I was going to write a lot more, but actually the reply became so long that you’ve inspired me to write my own diary in response. More anon

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