Overdog (EP.70)

In Personal Responsibillity, Podcast, Politics, Success by Will Luden4 Comments

Summary

Once upon a time, most of us rooted for the loveable underdog. You know, the Little League baseball team from Nowhere, USA that was up against the team from a big city; the team that had won the championship two of the last three years. These kids and their parents had been selling candy door-to-door for almost a year to fund the trip to the big game. Or the personable but nondescript singer on a major TV talent show who was competing against well-trained and attractive contestants. The scrappy, work hard, never-give-up, refuse to accept failure, person or team or country caught our imaginations.

Today, the trend has nothing to do with underdogs; the clear push is to be against the successful, characterized as the overdog. Not because this person or group was mean or arrogant in their success. Not because they cheated. Not because they took themselves way too seriously. But simply because they succeeded, and succeeded big time. That is enough to make them not only disliked, but it makes them the enemy. Yes, succeed and you become the enemy.

Links and References

Resenting Success

Columbus Day

Contact

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Transcript

Once upon a time, most of us rooted for the loveable underdog. You know, the Little League baseball team from Nowhere USA that was up against the team from a big city; the team that had won the championship two of the last three years. These kids and their parents had been selling candy door-to-door for almost a year to fund the trip to the big game. Or the personable but nondescript singer on a major TV talent show who was competing against well-trained and attractive contestants. The scrappy, work hard, never-give-up, refuse to accept failure, person or team or country caught our imaginations.

Today, the trend has nothing to do with underdogs; the clear push is to be against the successful, characterized as the overdog. Not because this person or group was mean or arrogant in their success. Not because they cheated. Not because they took themselves way too seriously. But simply because they succeeded, and succeeded big time. That is enough to make them not only disliked, but it makes them the enemy. Yes, succeed and you become the enemy.

Let’s go back to the 1776 Revolution, Revolution 1.0 (the first revolution) in the US. Who doesn’t look back with fondness and pride at the ragtag Continental Army that wintered in Valley Forge in ‘77-’78? “Naked and starving as they are, we cannot enough admire the incomparable patience and fidelity of the soldiery.” General George Washington, February 16, 1778. This soldiery came back and defeated the strongest military the world had ever seen.

Now let’s go part way around the world and forward in time to the newly-birthed nation of Israel. Who didn’t root for that scrappy band of refugees, homesteaders and holocaust survivors to defeat the combined might of its neighbors and other nearby enemies who were dedicated to its eradication? Their enemies refused to accept the UN partition and fought to eliminate Israel in ‘48. And again in ‘67 and ‘73 when Israel once again had to fight for its survival?

Today, the anti-big, anti-successful crowd sees these two nations, the US and Israel, as linked together as examples of international evil. Yes, both countries got bigger and stronger after their shaky starts. Israel out of a desire to exist. The US, initially, as part of a drive to expand its territory and economy to support a growing population–population growth stemming from children born here along with massive immigration. Immigration spurred in the main because America was the land of opportunity. Because America was free, growing and successful, it attracted millions who were looking for a better life for themselves and their families.

America’s size and strength has generated great harm; the horrific treatment of Native Americans, blacks and the disaster in Vietnam are leading examples. But the massive good that America has brought to the world far outweighs even those negatives. From the direction set forth in the founding documents, and pursued at great cost over the decades, to the World Wars and the Marshall Plan. From victory in the recognized Cold War, potentially at least as dangerous as WWI or WWII, to the continuing military- and foreign aid-backed assistance needed to hold back countries like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. Russia, China, Iran and North Korea wish to do the world harm to advantage themselves. America’s strength and resolve are vital to a free world as free nations fight unrecognized cold war after cold war.

And Israel is the only democracy in the always volatile and explosive Middle East. The only one. Her strength and refusal to be eradicated are necessary not only for her survival, but to keep the entire Middle East from becoming nothing more than a collection of warring dictatorships under Russian influence.

Born to modest circumstances and starting as an assistant bookkeeper, John D. Rockefeller was initially dedicated to bringing clean and cheap kerosene to homes in America. As kerosene and then gasoline grew in importance, Rockefeller’s Standard Oil came to dominate those industries. In 1911, the Supreme court ruled that Standard Oil had to be broken up into 34 different companies. In today’s dollars, J. D. Rockefeller would be worth $400B. Yes, billion. Rockefeller and his fantastic success are reviled my many. Admired by some.

Jeff Bezos worked on Wall Street in various positions from 1986 to 1994. He started Amazon in 1994, in part with money borrowed from his parents. His scrappy startup company, using tactics like emailing his list of friends to encourage them to check out his new online book selling company, was widely admired. Today, Mr. Bezos is worth $150B (there’s that “B” word again) and has been attracting growing amounts of criticism from many names in the news, including Bernie Sanders.

Okay, one more example. Starting small and making several initial mistakes, Sam Walton founded Walmart and Sam’s Club, creating the world’s largest retailer and bringing affordable prices to small- and medium-sized markets. Walmart has long been heavily criticized by the same groups that chime in against the other people and companies that have created enormous successes for themselves and our economy. N. B. All of these people and their companies succeeded by serving their customers.

We’ll lighten this up by remembering the cry, “Break up the Yankees!” Boasting arrogance backed by triumphant results, the Yankees were both revered and detested by the rest of the baseball world. In an astonishing 44-year period starting in 1921, the Yankees reached the World Series 29 times and won 20 of them. Even when they didn’t reach the Fall Classic, they were close, often finishing second or third, though anything less than first was considered an embarrassment to the Yankees’ establishment. There were frequent public discussions calling on the “authorities” to do just that; break up the Yankees.

There are a few notable exceptions, but even these exceptions fit a related pattern. Google and other Silicon Valley companies and, toward the other end of that state, Hollywood, are applauded by the very same people who turn on other successful entities. Silicon Valley and Hollywood get a pass for their fantastic successes because they are on the same side of the linear left/right spectrum as the people who are upset about other successes. The large and powerful main stream media also gets a pass. In other words, it is okay to succeed–even wildly–if you are “on the team.”

This is all a conscious extension of identity politics and the politics of victimization. In order to support the concept of victimization as a core philosophy, you need a victimizer. And not just any ol’ victimizer will do, you need large and powerful ones. And they don’t need to have victimized large numbers of people, or even any significant number of people; they just need to be big. Then label them as bad because, well, you know, they oppress and victimize people because they are big. And how else could they have gotten big? If anyone has the nerve to disagree, don’t present an argument; just label them, too. They were labeled in the first place, and critics of that labeling are then then labeled as racist, homophobic, xenophobic, sexist, Islamophobic or bigoted. Label the entity, then label the critics. Game over. And it will be game over if we stay silent.

Today’s key points: Success, even when created from nothing by determined hard work, is being painted as oppression. Lack of success, even when earned by lack of determined effort over time, is being portrayed as being victimization. This is deeply unfair to those who succeed and to those who don’t. We–we–must stand up and honor the people who succeed. They need to be made models, not targets. We must spend some of our time and treasure, both as individuals and a society, helping others follow–emulate–those models, and succeed on their own.

Let’s apply the two Results With Reason main tenets to today’s issues. The two main tenets that we believe in at Results With Reason are:

  1. Personal Responsibility; practice it, teach it and
  2. Be Your Brother’s Keeper.

Today’s application is again straightforward:

  1. Personal Responsibility. Engage in the political conversation. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe, for what you know to be true.
  2. Be your Brother’s Keeper. Be patient with each other; some will understand what you saying immediately, others will not. Teach and encourage; don’t criticize and reject. Love and lead. Remember, we are all in this together.

Now it is time for our usual parting thought. It is not enough to be informed. It is not enough to be a well informed voter. We need to act.  And if we, you and I, don’t do something, then the others who are doing something, will continue to run the show.

Remember: Knowledge by itself is the booby prize.

Will Luden, writing to you from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

Will Luden
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Will Luden

As an author, speaker, public company board chair, family man, a man with many friends (and friends-to-be), citizen and a child of God, I am driven to contribute. One way to for me to contribute is to start thought-provoking discussions.My overall objective is to stimulate “Passionate, Relentless, Reasoning.” My specific goals include getting people to act (only) after Reasoning.
Will Luden
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Comments

  1. Yes, success should be applauded and encouraged, but(and there’s always a but) even successful people are human beings. What those people do with their success becomes the issue. In Rockefeller’s case, he was using his success to try to build more “success” by driving those who challenged him out of business so that he could make even more money. AT&T was forced to break up because their near monopoly on telecommunications and conservative approach was stifling innovation. The Yankees’ perpetual success could make the results of the season a foregone conclusion and therefore reduce the entertainment value (the basic purpose) of major league baseball.
    From a government policy standpoint, I believe that one of the functions of a democracy is to protect the weak from the strong, physically, financially and socially. While success and innovation should be applauded, there must be a watchdog to keep things from getting out of hand.
    I totally agree that those folks who refuse to follow the guidelines for success: hard work, discipline, social courtesies, should not be considered victims of anything other than their own self centeredness.
    Proverbs 30:7-9 “Two things I ask of you, O Lord,…give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise I may have too much and disown you and say ‘Who is the Lord?’ . Or I may become poor and steal and so dishonor the name of my God.”

  2. Forgiveness, the underdog will armor with the meek and humble. Thank you 🙏 Will. The Humble also forgive.

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