He said, "We are what we do. Not what we wish to be. Not what we say we are. But what we do. And what we do here in Washington is rescue big companies and rich people from the consequences of their mistakes. When mistakes don’t cost you anything, you do more of them."
I need to parse this out a bit. "We are what we do. Not what we wish to be. Not what we say we are. But what we do." Have truer words ever been spoken? There are many things I want to be, wish to be, would like to grow into but the true measure of who I am is what I do. I may think myself honest but am I if I steal, lie, cheat and the like, even if it is infrequently? We want to believe in what we think we are but in reality we are what we do.
More so, we are what we do consistently. I may be an honest person that cheated once. I am not an honest person if I steal once a week, no matter how I behave the rest of the month. If I am mean spirited and destructive to those about me, but smile and giggle my way through life I am a mean spirited and destructive giggler. Most people only want to see the giggler and ignore the other side.
Here lies the rest of the quote: "And what we do here in Washington is rescue big companies and rich people from the consequences of their mistakes. When mistakes don’t cost you anything, you do more of them."
Socially the quote for the modern American could be reworked like this: And how we deal with our friends is rescue those we like from the consequences of their mistakes. When mistakes don’t cost you anything, you do more of them and now our friends make bigger and bigger mistakes.
Is it truly being a friend when we actively reward the errors? I say no. It is no more friendship that if we see one error and cast someone out. Consistently rewarding such things is purely selfish. We don't want to have a difficult conversation, we don't want our original judgment of the person proven wrong, we only want to deal with the pleasant.
Life will let one do that but the more one turns one's back on the wantonly destructive, the more one sell his own soul. The little twinges in the heart get louder and louder. Self loathing is the result. We feel we have failed because we have. Turning our back on wanton destruction does not make the world a better place. It makes us selfish. The selfish do not grow. They grasp.
So to those of you that have called me short from time to time, I thank you for being courageous enough to do so. Especially, if you were courageous enough to be my friend afterward in hopes I would grow.
Russ Roberts books are: The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity,The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance and The Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protection (3rd Edition)