The picture to the left is not my front porch. I am not even sure I would want it to be mine, but I did enjoy looking at the ocean from it the other day. Whether I own that porch or not has nothing to do with my happiness.
I have read some online excerpts of the book, "Why We Hate Us," by Dick Meyer. I will not pretend to know the full arguments of the book, but I did catch the idea that American and Americans are a drift with no traditions to help them navigate this new world.
"was there no corner of society left that we could look at with innocence and uncomplicated respect?"
People complain about a lot of things from political ads to how much groceries cost. The idea that the good old days were some years far in past has never resonated with me.
I have little good to say about political parties that have nothing to sell but fear. Still I am enough of a realist to know that good and government have a hard time being in the same sentence. I would love to be convinced otherwise.
In spite of all that I remain an optimist. While I know that there are folks out there who care only for themselves, I am also certain there are plenty of people who have more than just their own self interest at heart.
I refuse to believe that we have become a nation that only cares about itself and how to make oneself happy.
I would agree that you can find some pretty selfish CEOs out there today, but they do not control my life. Having lived under the iron rule of Steve Jobs, I can understand people being angry in an employee prison like an Apple can create. However, it is just a job and no one forces you to keep it.
I grew up in North Carolina in a wonderfully supportive extended family. Family and taking responsibility for helping others was part of every day life. My mother, a beautician, used to do the hair of relatives for free every Saturday. I never heard her complain about it. She also helped her sisters with their families. My father has a lake named after him for all his support of the Boy Scout movement.
I had some pretty good examples to follow, but my world was not the same as theirs. For most of our married life, my wife and I have had almost no family around except our children. Still we have been able to lead lives where we respect ourselves and others.
One of the few rules that I live by is to always try to leave a situation or place better that it was when I got involved or passed through. The idea is to give more than you take. The reality is that works out better in the long run.
A lot of people do not understand that perspective. Their hope is to profit from a friendship and be done with it. Some businesses just try to profit from employees before they are done with them. I know a couple of people who value money more than friendships. I do not think they are the norm.
The philosophy of giving more that you get even works with employees, clients, and customers. I try to give more than I get even in a business transaction. While it might not be dollars for dollars, the value I give is substantial.
One of the challenges in life is believing in other people and not getting jaded if a few of your bets in life do not turn out right. You have to expect the best and be prepared for the worst, but you cannot let even the worst destroy your values and view of the world.
There will be tough times in any life, but changing the way you treat others does not fix your problem, and it creates problems for others.
I work with a group of real estate agents in Cape Carteret, North Carolina. They come from varied backgrounds, but I have tremendous respect for the way they do their jobs at time when they are essentially paying for the privilege of working for nothing. They deliver value to clients who often do not even understand how much help they are receiving for free.
So the next time you think your job is challenging, think about paying for the privilege of working while making no money for months. Could you still do a great job. My heroes do.
I did completely agree with Myer regarding his decision to never buy lunch from a stranger again if possible. We have taken it a little farther and decided to live where many people are not strangers.
It makes a huge difference in life. It is the way we grew up in North Carolina in the fifties and sixties. It mirrors our life on the farm in Canada in the seventies. Certainly it is one of the reasons we loved raising our kids in Roanoke, Va.
If anything chain stores and restaurants probably do impact the social fabric of neighborhoods. I can remember mourning the loss of Bill Wood's Ace Hardware in Roanoke. Yet it takes reasonable people to make a neighborhood work. People have to care for each other.
While caring for family is easier than caring for a neighbor, we have had plenty of neighbors and friends whose lives are very important to us.
We have had enough shared experiences to build some close ties.
So in the end while I might not have a positive view of everything in life, I can say that my life is far happier than it was four years ago when I was a well paid director for Apple computer.
I do not make nearly as much money, but I sleep well at night knowing that I have tried hard to treat everyone like I would like to be treated. Mostly it has worked.
The good news is that a lot of people treat me very well. I am pleased to say the future looks bright.
Just maybe a little credit goes not only to our families but those wonderful uncomplicated places we have lived like Mt. Airy, NC, Tay Creek, New Brunswick, Roanoke, Virginia, and Carteret County, NC.