OPINION – One of the best parts of being a commentator is the amount of reading I’m required to do each day.
It’s a bit like prospecting for precious metal in that there’s a lot of material to sift through in hopes of finding something of real value. Every so often I stumble across a nugget of figurative gold that offers truly insightful or transformational information.
This past week, I found two such nuggets worth sharing.
This first one titled “Good Men” is from blogger Eric Peters. Peters begins with the question, “Can a good man spend his days doing bad things and remain a good man?”
He specifically calls to mind the German citizen of the 1930s who likely found himself or herself facing the choice of going along with things that were a clear departure from personal morality.
At some point, each German was confronted with the decision to either strongly support what their society was doing, to passively go along with it so as to not invite suspicion, or to openly oppose it.
History shows us that very few people were willing to refuse to be a cog in the machine of mass murder. Only a handful of truly heroic individuals were wiling to speak out and risk the life or death consequences of saying, “No.”
Peters points out that many Germans justified the morally loathsome things that were being done because those things were perfectly legal in the eyes of their government. Legal and moral are not necessarily the same thing.
It’s a distinction we would be wise to remember as we consider some of the morally loathsome things that are currently being conducted as official policy by our own government.
This includes the government-funded support of dissection of living babies to procure and sell fetal tissue by Planned Parenthood. It includes the nationalistic push for aggressive interventionism and extra-judicial drone strike killings of individuals who were never afforded due process.
It includes the deliberate, unwarranted surveillance and collection of data on each of us and the continual, relentless removal of our personal liberty.
Such evils are only possible when individuals stop asking the question, “Am I a decent person?” It takes courage to ask and truthfully answer such a question.
The second nugget I encountered last week was a gem of an article by Brett and Kate McKay titled, “Strip or Retire: Why Every Man Should Have Skin in the Game.”
It’s an idea that has deep relevance in our day.
The article recounted how in classical cultures, such as the ancient Greeks and Romans, a man’s honor required him to prove and test his reputation in the public arena. This meant that a man had to be open to constant challenges to his credibility.
It required a person to take responsibility for his failures as well as his successes.
Today, we live in a world where the people who exert the greatest control seem to be the ones with the greatest aversion to personal exposure or liability.
Why should we take any person seriously if they can act without risk or consequence?
This could apply to bankers or money managers who make risky investments for which the taxpayers are expected provide bailout money.
It brings to mind politicians who preen for the cameras and play up their status without ever taking responsibility for how their exercise of power has affected others.
It includes the contemptible, faceless comment section trolls who spit out their responses with the enthusiasm of a manure spreader yet lack the courage to attach their names to their words.
People without skin in the game are people without honor. They do not deserve our trust or our respect.
On the other hand, those who have skin and soul in the game are the men and women who leave a legacy. This legacy is not so much about what they have accomplished as it is about the kind of people they have become.
Brett and Kate McKay make a strong case for the revival of classical personal honor in our age. They write:
Lending trust and support only to those with skin in the game would not only help strengthen society as a whole, but also helps us make better decisions in our individual lives.
The world doesn’t need more shameless people who seek to transfer all risk to others. It needs men and women who aren’t content to complain from the sidelines but are willing to get into the game and suffer the bruises and exhaustion.
It needs more decent people who choose to have skin in the game.
Bryan Hyde is a radio commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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