The Power of Self-reliance

I was perusing The Wall Street Journal online edition over the weekend, when a video they were showcasing on their site caught my eye.  It was an interview with Jane Wurwand, the co-founder of Dermalogica skin care products.  What caught my eye was not the "multimillionaire" in the title, but rather the words, "self-reliance," a term I believe that could be found today on the endangered list when speaking of desirable qualities in individuals.

In the interview, we learn Jane was two years old and the youngest of four children at the time her mother was widowed.  Her mother "cobbled together a patchwork quilt of care" for her young family and went back to work utilizing her nursing skills.  Jane credits her mother with giving her an incredibly strong work ethic, as she taught them it was not so much about education, but that "you must learn to do something, you must have a 'transportable skill''s about digging in, doing your best and not complaining."  She further went on to say that the loss of her father at a young age, made her realize "you had to be self-reliant the end of the day, you have to rely on yourself, because that is who is with you all the time," although she does follow that by saying she is a "big believer in the power and support of the family and close friends."

At this time in our country's history, we are in danger of losing that self-reliance that fueled our parents, grand-parents and the generations before them that built this country.  When we should be imbuing our children with critical thinking skills, encouraging their imagination and ingenuity, and helping them learn by doing, we've become a society that has over-swung the pendulum of "collaboration", the current buzzword synonymous with endless committees, commissions, councils, and teams.

Yes, one can point to the age-old proverb, "no man is an island," or, the one year anniversary of the success of Seal Team 6.  But I would respond to the latter, with a response given by a Special Forces member to Mike Huckabee during a weekend interview, "each man brings a particular skill set to the team."  While those combined skill sets enable the team to complete its missions, I would offer, that in the event of an unforced error, each individual member would be able to survive on his own until rescued.

I am not against "teams" or "team spirit"; there is a time and place for everything and everyone.  In a country as diverse as ours, there is certainly the need to learn how to get along and work with people of different cultures and lifestyles.  However, what I have noticed becoming more ascendant in the last several years, whether in the workplace, school, politics, sports, etc. is the acquiescence of the individual to the majority consensus, or as Mill once wrote, "the tyranny of the majority."  Are we Americans becoming a nation only capable of group think?  Can you imagine Edison inventing the light bulb if he had to run his idea and invention before a committee?  And what of these young budding entrepreneurs having their lemonade stands shut down by local authorities.  

With the recent anemic jobs report last Friday, followed by Zero Hedge's two charts on labor force participation, we can only hope Ms. Wurwand is representative of other Americans whose entrepreneurial spirit and ruggedness is operating underground or has gone into temporary hibernation.

I am the daughter of parents who were "The Greatest Generation."  They gave me their spirit, their knowledge, their wisdom to keep going, fighting, and to never give up. In short, I'm proud they taught me to be self-reliant.

On November 6, I will cast a vote for not-Julia.  Will you join me?

Melanie Kowalski provides commentary and insights into current events and the political scene at