Thursday, September 4, 2008

Quote of the Day: Why We Hate Us

"Our culture has proven much more adept at tearing down public figures and building up worthless celebrities than at producing genuine leadership. Perhaps only children need heroes. But we have few public figures who don't become embarrasments, much less steady moral exemplars. We generate celebrity but not leadership, fame but not honor."


2 comments:

Joe Maurone said...

This quote is interesting in itself, but I wanted to offer a couple of thoughts on why I picked it. I just recently read this book, and while I don't endorse it outright, I found some of it interesting, especially this quote. I would be oversimplifying to say that the above is the basis for the book's title, but I'd like to say that the "self-loathing" that Americans have, according to Meyer, is partly a result of a LACK of heroism in adulthood. The problem is the fear of the word "hero." Meyer doesn't bother to define heroism, being beyond the scope of his book, but he seems to make the case for their need in the above, even if he's step around the term himself (he's the kind of guy who differentiates "individualism" from "selfishness," saying "you couldn't find a worse recipe for happiness than worrying about yourself first," on the Colbert Report, August 13, 2008.)

I'm not accusing Meyer of anything outright, I don't know enough about him, but this "skipping" around words like "hero" and "selfish" is reminiscent of a question put to Ayn Rand. When she was asked why she used the word "selfish," she responded "for the very reason you fear it." In order to have individualism, you have to have a self, hence "selfish." The very fact that the word selfish only has a negative tone in our culture, when it should be neutral(!)...is etymological laziness at best and anti-individual at worst. But if we skip around the word "selfish," well, then, of course we're going to confine "heroism" to children, since, in the eyes of someone like Meyer, "selfishness" is restricted to children as well...

Landon Erp said...

I always find it funny when a person is struggling with a difficult issue and writes off the legitimate solution to the problem early on and then remains completely stumped as the problems continue to mount.