Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - July 13, 2014
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Please note: These show notes may be in various stages of completion -- ranging from brainstormed notes through to well-polished monologues. Please excuse anything that may seem rough around the edges, as it may only be a first draft of a thought and not be fully representative of what was said on the air.
A declaration of personal independenceSevere weather kept us from having this conversation last week when it would have been more timely.
The Declaration of Independence is supremely valuable because it is a statement of principles...principles that have told us "who we are" as Americans for more than 200 years. What's surprising is that so few people and families try to define themselves with a similar statement of principles.
Lots of families have sought to hand things from generation to generation -- money, businesses, farms, heirlooms. But with alarming frequency, those things don't get handed down very far. They get lost within a generation or two. That's why we have the phrase "shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations". If we don't spend some time defining who we are and why, we have nothing more than a thread of hope that anything we pass along will make it from one generation to another.
Know who your heroes are and why you chose them. Don't let your heroes be picked for you by the popular media, either. Donald Trump gets a lot of press and if you didn't know any better, you could be forgiven for thinking that he's a legitimate business icon. But the Trump Atlantic City Casino is about to go bankrupt. Who runs a casino so badly it goes bankrupt?
We do this in church (professing creeds). Some (but not many) companies do this. Many social and fraternal organizations do this (think of the Boy Scout Oath and Scout Law). So why do practically zero families do this? It's especially important when living in a non-monocultural society like the United States, where the lack of homogeneity means that certain items of "received wisdom" that might be inescapable in a place like, say, Sweden or Japan, don't show up with the same force.
Who we are:
- Books that define what we know
- How we spend our free time
- What charities we support
- Whose opinions we value
- What we will not tolerate
- What is our work ethic?
- What do we share?
- What do we keep to ourselves?
- What are our loyalties?
- What we learned in school
- What we learned outside of school
- How we make hard choices