Self. Reliance. Esteem. Help.
Last week, one of Muri’s friends, Joan, emailed her a YouTube video titled, I can’t believe you made it! Muri forwarded it to me. I’ve only shown it to guys within, say, ten years of my age … meaning old(er) … but without exception, their response has been, That’s so true! And perhaps a little spontaneous applause when it’s over. If any of you out there have Younger Eyes, I’d like to hear your reaction. Here’s the video:
It captures my childhood years perfectly … many of the scenes could have been filmed in my neighborhood. In fact, back in October, I wrote a post titled Parentless Playtime that made some of the very same points, although not as good-naturedly. Were things better back then, in spite of all our advances in technology and human relations? In some ways yes, others no. There was much more overt discrimination back then and women were often relegated to the kitchen. But everyone I’ve talked to … all old(er) … agrees – we are glad we were kids then.
Maybe it’s because I’m always on the lookout for post-fodder that things like I can’t believe you made it! gnaw at the corners of my brain when most people just laugh and forget about them. I woke up this morning with an idea for a post loosely wrapped around the word self. I was thinking that my childhood taught me to be self-reliant by allowing me to be in situations where I had to take care of myself. I’m not granting my parents any marvelous insight as parents … it was just how things were done. I never ever heard the word self-esteem and, as far as I knew, no one had ever heard of a self-help book. A little research showed that Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, written in 1936 is regarded as the first self-help book, but interestingly, it’s about friends and other people. Maybe the change is related to this: self-reliance is something we gain through experience while, at least these days, self-esteem is a primary goal of parents and schools. In other words, self-esteem is given to us. Hmmm.
In looking for a little more substance for a post, I found the first chapter of Steve Salerno’s SHAM – How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless posted online. Intrigued, I read it. Salerno’s view is that over the years, self-help has evolved into a philosophy of victimization in which people do not take personal responsibility for their actions. He even cites the notion of powerlessness in 12-Step programs as an example of how that happens. Now, as a self-professed self-help junkie and 12-Stepper, I took exception to some of what he says … but he also made a ot of sense. So, there won’t be a post on self today … I’ll be reading the rest of Salerno’s book on my Kindle … and likely posting on it sometime soon. You can read the first chapter here if you’re interested.