The concept of stability has suffered from the largely inaccurate perception of being boring and lacking imagination. Successful fundamental institutions are anything but antiquated. Solidifying one’s core values is no different than building a home with a secure foundation that is able to withstand various levels of trauma. That type of dependability is not unexciting; it is the beginning of a viable adventure.
Risk is a necessity of life. As expressed by the former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, “The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” If you never reach beyond yourself, you’ll never grow. The next qualifier is to gauge how much that dream ought to “scare” you. That is unique to each individual; however, it should not exceed your ability to manage it. Be audacious and daring, but don’t be foolish. Personal accomplishments in the small things will greatly affect how much you can invest in your goals. The thinner you spread yourself, the higher the probability of failure. Obstacles will manifest. The capability to manage them alongside your dreams will either prolong or expedite your reward of success. Resisting cultural institutions that breed stability hinders the advancement and expression of any culture. It is slowly strangled and then it decays. Rules, conventions, and edicts are not strict boundaries developed to make you unhappy and restrained. They are like the bumpers on a bowling lane that teach you to aim straight enough not to end up in the gutter. Who wants to end up in the gutter? No one does.
Simple things like getting regular oil changes, paying your bills on time, cleaning your house, and eating properly are good places to start, but what’s next? Maybe stop complaining and lying for a day and see what happens. Can you do it for three days? A week, or more? What happens then? You become dependable enough for someone else to rely on. Then children can rely on you, then a neighborhood, a community, a business, staff, a district, a city, and so on. However, as soon as you become lax in sustaining your predictable, stable structure, it begins to fall apart.
Attempting to redefine the rules to fix your failures resolves nothing. You’re not better off alone, your children are not better off without you, and you are not more productive when procrastinating. Values guard you, as well as the community.
Albert Einstein stated, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” Success is a symptom of value. When someone pursues ideals like efficiency and integrity, they can naturally produce ingenuity and beauty. By contrast, should one chase after power and cunning, one will cultivate scarcity and manipulation.
The Judeo-Christian perspective is that “obedience is better than sacrifice.” Holding close to values is far more prudent than having to expend some energy in the form of wealth to pay comeuppance for breaking from those values in the first place. To a king, he could lose his kingdom. To a family, they could lose their home.
In the movie, Two For The Money, Al Pacino’s character, compulsive gambler Walter, discusses being addicted to losing. He pathetically attempts to convince himself that he is recovered by saying, “Gambling is not the problem. We’re the problem.” Recklessly investing, either financially or emotionally, at the expense of someone else’s sustainability is fraud. It is a lack of care and respect for yourself and those around you.
The sooner we as a culture realize that we have our own individual responsibilities to strive for better, the more likely we are to be capable of succeeding as a whole. It won’t be apparent all at once; it does not need to be. When we live by our values, we regulate our veracity. Bypassing what may allow another to succeed for the sake of personal gain discounts one’s own accomplishments. In turn, it promotes a bitter culture.
By: Rosemary Dewar