As all men are created equal, so too, all men are created good.  The next fact to follow is that too many good people make bad decisions.  It started with Adam and Eve and will continue.  That is a fact.

With those facts in mind, we continue to survive – possibly thrive – as the human race.  Although we’ve made bad choices that negatively impact all of creation, we may be getting wiser in some respects.

As I approach the end of the 72nd year of my existence, I conclude that the future of the world will come down to attitude, not money, intelligence, or technology.

Admiral McKraven

In February this year, we posted an article that focused on Admiral William McRaven’s 10 principles that empower us to change the world…

    1. Make your bed…
    2. You can’t go it alone…
    3. Only the size of your heart matters…
    4. Life’s not fair…
    5. Failure can make you stronger…
    6. You must dare greatly…
    7. Stand up to the bullies…
    8. Rise to the occasion…
    9. Give people hope…
    10. Never ever quit…

If you look closely at those 10 principles, you will note that not a one has anything to do with how smart you are, how much money you have, technology, where you live, how big your house is, etc.  You can sum up Admiral McRaven’s 10 principles in a single word

ATTITUDE

He doesn’t call for new legislation, new political agendas, new budgets, additional funding, or anything of the sort.  The Admiral explains that we have the power to change the world with our ATTITUDE.

In his book The Unsettling of America, Wendell Berry relates a statement made by a farmer friend who told him he kept the weeds out of his crops for the same reason that he washed his face.  My first reaction was that weeding the crops and washing your face is a matter of cleanliness, but as I thought deeper, I concluded that the farmer weeds his crops and a man washes his face simply because it is the right thing to do.  Mr. Berry concludes,

“The human race has survived by that attitude.  It can survive only by that attitude… Such an attitude does not come from education… It does not come even from principle.  It comes from a passion that is culturally prepared – a passion for excellence and order that is handed down to young people by older people whom they respect and love.  When we destroy the possibility of that succession, we will have gone far toward destroying ourselves.”

Culturally, America has gone soft.  We expect and demand little of our children because we do not want to ‘upset them.’  That’s a bad attitude.  As a result, too many young heads spend too much time buried in video screens… doing the easy thing… doing what they want to do, what brings them pleasure, not necessarily what they ought to do to improve their own lives and the lives of the creatures who inhabit the world with them.

In his book Keep Going, Joseph M. Marshall III relates a story Old Hawk tells his grandson,

“We inherit the will to try… we learn that quitting is always an option.  We learn that it is easier and less painful to simply quit.”

He tells the young boy the story of Long Walker who was sent north into a great winter storm to obtain medicine for his sick tribe.  The weather could not have been worse,

“Long Walker said all he wanted to do was to go to sleep in the snow because he was so exhausted.  Part of him had given up, but another part of him didn’t… Long Walker taught us it is better to go on until you cannot, which is better than quitting when you know you have the strength for one more step.”

I’ve had plenty of experience with both sides of this coin, the ‘what’s-in-it-for-me’ side, and the ‘how-do-my-choices-benefit-those-around-me’ side.  The results of which attitude one displays are obvious.

Make your bed and wash your face.  Keep going and take one more step.  These are the lessons we are obligated as ‘older people’ to pass down to the young people in our lives.

Attitude – not material – is the legacy that we must pass on to our children and our children’s children.

Mitakuye Oyasin

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  1. That is one of the best Vitruvian Man that I have read. I can’t go into why because I would be showing many of my weaknesses and mistakes. I do all of Admiral McKraven’s principles except make my bed. It’s funny how making ones bed gets all the attention. Maybe now I can see why.