Guest blogger: Rick Osbourne
Recently I saw a documentary movie in which an extraordinary old British gent contended that democracy is still the most revolutionary concept that the human race has ever encountered. He proceeded to observe that despotic governments manipulate and control their people by keeping them fearful, demoralized, and in debt.
Than he added, "Demoralized people don't vote, they don't take responsibility for themselves, and they don't maintain their right to a political democracy," he said. "You see it takes strong, healthy, resilient, self reliant, and self confident people to form and to maintain a democracy. Strong people are much harder to control than demoralized people." I found myself wanting to stand up in the audience in order to shout YES!!!!
OPYOW and Rugged Individualism
In that light I'd like to make the following comments about Operation Pull Your Own Weight, a program primarily focused on childhood obesity prevention, and on developing strong, resilient, self reliant kids who refuse to drink from the mass produced, conventional fountains of indoctrination. Above all else, these kids think for themselves.
There are those who have embraced OPYOW because of its ruggedly individualistic connotations, and I don't deny that rugged individualism is part of its appeal. We actively applaud strength, resilience, self-reliance, and personal responsibility taking behaviors. They are key components of being human in the fullest sense.
Social Darwinism VS Enlightened Self Interest
On the other hand, OPYOW is actively opposed to Social Darwinism, a theory that endorses a self centered, me first, to hell with you, survival of the fittest orientation to human existence. That may be part of American folklore, but in real life, self centered individualism all by itself is psychologically alienating and socially counterproductive.
Instead OPYOW favors enlightened self interest, a concept that takes the position "what's good for my family is good for me. And what's good for my neighborhood is good for my family. And what's good for my city, county, state, nation, world, is good for my neighborhood, my family, and me." In the words of some wise old man somewhere, "We're all in this together." Failing to understand and to act according to the principal of enlightened self interest undermines democracy.
So does OPYOW salute rugged individuals who can fend for themselves, their family, their friends, and maybe even their city, state, nation, world? Absolutely! Does OPYOW salute rugged individuals who refuse the lure of conventional kool-aid and think for themselves? Without a doubt! And does OPYOW salute rugged individuals who use their strength to help strengthen others and help them to become confident, self reliant, yet also humble, mutually respectful, and therefore fully human? Yesiree Bob.
Egalitarianism, mutual respect, quiet self confidence, and enlightened self interest are at the heart of democracy and Operation Pull Your Own Weight. Hats off to both!
Rick Osbourne spent 17 years as a physical educator and coach. He currently writes for a living, and serves as the Executive Director of Operation Pull Your Own Weight, an informational web site that's dedicated to eliminating childhood obesity in one decade. Third-time guest blogger Osbourne can be reached at pullyourownweight.net or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Guest blogger: Rick Osbourne