It's about our community and our spirituality!

Personal Gain Ahead Of Personal Sacrifice


From the October 28th edition of the Colbert Report.

Stephen Colbert:  Are Native Americans going for McCain or are they going for Obama?  And McCain obviously head of the Indian affairs committee.  That you got in Arizona.
Sherman Alexie
:  Let’s get one thing out of the way.  They are both politicians so we’re both a little nervous.  We’re all a nervous about any politician.
Stephen Colbert
:  But do Native Americas have a choice here?
Sherman Alexie
:  Oh yeah.  Big time choice.  Obama.  About ninety percent of Native Americans are for Obama.
Stephen Colbert
:  But why?  I mean we know he’s half black half white.  There no half left for Chickasaw.
Sherman Alexie
:  Well the thing is McCain is actually great for Indians.  Has been great for Indians in Arizona but he’s bad for the country.  So unlike all other groups of people…
Stephen Colbert
:  So you’re taking back your support for McCain?  You know what we call that?
Sherman Alexie
:  What do we call that?  Indian giving!  You taught us how.  We’re only assimilating in your way of dealing with other people.
Stephen Colbert
:  Why give it to Obama?  I don’t understand!
Sherman Alexie:  We’re giving it to Obama because unlike other groups of people in this country, we Indians vote for the good of everybody and not just for the good of our little group.

I have been asking people a hypothetical question.  If you had the power to make someone President that you honestly felt was bad for the country would you do it if you would gain a benefit personally?  Most people want to know how much they could gain.  Few would say straight off the bat that they wouldn’t do it.  It’s a hypothetical question so you can supply whatever benefit you want to the scenario.  It’s fair to say most people would at least entertain the idea.

I asked myself the same question.  If I could earn millions of dollars by making it possible for whom I believe to be the worst candidate to win the presidency would I be willing to sellout the country for personal gain?  I’d like to think that I wouldn’t.  I’d like to think that my personal integrity would be strong enough to say no to the thought of screwing the public for a personal agenda.  But I won’t know for sure the strength of my character until I’m actually placed in the situation.  Unfortunately, I see other people quick to surrender to the compulsion for personal gain quite easily.

After Senator John McCain lost the election people who worked for the McCain Palin campaign didn’t wait twenty four hours to start slinging the trash about how unqualified Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was as a vice presidential running mate.  And yet, these same people were working hard to help get her elected.  These people were willing to bite their tongue and help her and the man who they felt exercised poor judgment by selecting her as the absolute best person to manage the country should something happen to the President.  Now that Senator Barack Obama is our President-elect these people want to say how the country, the world even, dodged a bullet.  If these people truly wanted to do the country a favor and help the country from voting for the wrong candidate they would have brought their concerns to the nation’s attention before

And there’s a flipside to this coin.  Some people want to see their opponent as nothing but the epitome of the worst of humanity.  Now that Mr. Obama is President-elect, people are already blaming Mr. Obama for the economic crisis that the country is going through.  Conservative political commentator and national talk show radio personality Rush Limbaugh, along with his political opinion doppelganger Sean Hannity of FOX News, made the suggestion that Mr. Obama is to blame for the current economic woes of the country.

On the November 11th broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, Mr. Hannity said, “Wall Street keeps sinking.  Could it be the Obama recession: The fear that taxes are gonna go up, forcing people to pull out of the market?”  Many conservatives in the media are referring to an Obama recession in an obvious attempt to provide to poison public opinion on Mr. Obama’s administration before inauguration day.  MSNBC’s Chris Matthews noted on his November 12th broadcast of Hardball with Chris Matthews, “[Radio host Rush Limbaugh] says the recession isn’t President Bush’s fault.  It’s the fault, catch this, of the President who hasn’t yet taken office.  It’s an Obama recession, that’s what he’s calling it.”  Mr. Matthews went on to characterized the reference to an Obama recession as some of the most bitter sore loser rhetoric we are hearing these days.

Since October of 2007 the overall trend in economic markets has been downward.  When Mr. Obama clinched the Democratic Party nomination in June the DOW was already off virtually twelve percent of its October 2007 high value.  When Ms. Palin was announced as Mr. McCain’s running mate the DOW was down more than eighteen percent.  And now that Mr. Obama is President-elect people want to lay blame squarely at his feet before he’s had an opportunity to enact a single policy.  Even if Mr. Obama did everything correctly I seriously doubt if these people would be willing to give him any credit.  Why?  They know they are more likely to do better with the other guy in charge regardless of what happens to the country.

Would I be willing to screw the country for personal gain.  We all know Benedict Arnold did it.  We know that John Anthony Walker and his family did it when they compromised the advantage America had with submarine development by selling technology secrets to the Soviets.  History is littered with examples of people blatantly screwing or trying to screw the country for personal gain.  Truth be told it looks like there are more examples than we give people credit for.  People working in politics for personal gain is par for the course.

I would like to think that I would follow Mr. Alexie and the overall Native American example.  But then again the Native Americans have a history of living in a more socialistic environment.  Nevertheless, I would like to think I would follow John F. Kennedy’s plea to the nation to ask not what my country can do for me but what I can do for my country.  I would like to think I would put personal sacrifice ahead of personal gain when the welfare of the country is on the line.

Friday, November 14, 2008 - Posted by | Barack Obama, Life, Philosophy, Politics, Thoughts


  1. Interesting post as always. One thing I have always had found hard to come to grips with, is the way JFK’s quote is slung around. Now JFK used tax cuts himself, not tax increases. I think (and this is my uneducated assumptions here)that he believed in personal sacrifice to advance things. That people took their time and efforts to help push the country forward, through personal initiative that led to increased competitive drive in furthering our technological advances. Not through government mandated programs of making everyone equal, out of fairness’ sake.

    I myself am a firm believer in helping people out, even if it’s with my last dime, if they need it. But I like to know that it is my good nature, not because I don’t have the choice by law. I personally sacrificed for my country by voluntarily joining the military when I was 17, and if our country faced imminent danger, you’d be sure to see me in line again…waiting (just like the Army likes it! LOL) All I ask, is to be asked. If I ever get mugged, its gonna be a bad day for the mugger, no matter the outcome. I would like to think I would avoid putting someone into power just for some personal gain, but like you, I guess I’d never know unless put into that situation.

    Comment by mike lovell | Friday, November 14, 2008 | Reply

  2. Thanks for the feedback mike lovell,

    I too am a firm believer in helping other people out. But I also know that I can only do so much. I’d like to think that everyone would be willing to be generous. But I know that’s not the case. People are greedy and are willing to let some citizens suffer to their own detriment. Case in point who fight against sharing their school district’s resources with another school district that is not wealthy and can barely afford to teach the basics. If we don’t use tax dollars to fund all of our children’s future, who will?

    People who are in the position to help others shouldn’t be forced. But that appears to be the American way. If it wasn’t for the government stepping in we would have companies free to hire only white people and to discriminate against minorities and such. We shouldn’t have a system that allows people to take without giving something back in return. If you want to be part of the American community then come be a part knowing that you have to give as you get.

    We live in a system where the average corporate executive can earn hundreds of times the wealth of the average employee. We live in an age of outrageous disparity. We allow corporations to earn billions of dollars of profit. But when these same corporations get in financial trouble they come hat in hand to the public treasury so they can get a bailout because they are too large to fail. And the way our social system is setup we will help them because the financial impact that would ripple through our economy would drag us all down. Private profits with public pain seems to be the American way. It’s socialism to help the little guy. It’s capitalism to help the corporation.

    As my son grows he will learn the importance of sharing. If he has friends and family peers he will learn to share. He won’t have the luxury of giving only when or what he wants while somebody does without. He will have an opportunity to demonstrate his ability to give. And when it doesn’t happen, he’ll have an opportunity to learn it can be taken away. That’s his choice.

    Now that we see firsthand that people who have aren’t as willing to give and share with the rest of the community we can set it up so that they have to share. Trust me, I’m not one to take anything from anyone who doesn’t want to give freely. But when the future of the community is at stake, it’ll happen in a heart beat.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Friday, November 14, 2008 | Reply

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