‘Why, in My Day . . .’
May 18, 2011 7:08 P.M.
By Michael Potemra
One of the most annoying clichés I have run across among my fellow middle-aged people is the whine that kids had it so much tougher back in our day. Over on Patheos, blogger Max Lindenman has delivered a pitch-perfect parody of the genre:“These poor bubble-wrapped Oprafied kids! Why, in my day, we poured ground glass on our pancakes and chewed the dishes like breath mints. After we finished, I’d grab my Kenner stainless-steel tomahawk, my brother would grab his Hasbro single-action Colt Navy revolver, and we’d play cowboys and Indians. Once my dad told me, ‘Son, I’d rather see your sister in a whorehouse than you in a seat belt.’ To make his point, he beat me bloody with a sjambok. That was my ninth birthday.”Spot-on. I grew up in the 1970s, with (perhaps a little more than?) my share of issues, and it was tough enough. When I look at the pressures, stresses, and competitiveness (in both the economy and the overall society) that today’s kids put up with — all of which look vastly more difficult than the ones my generation faced — all I can say is, 1) Be brave, kids; and 2) Good heavens, I’m glad it’s not me having to face all that.
A Word to the Unwise
May 19, 2011 9:48 A.M.
By John Hood
The spectacular self-destruction of Newt Gingrich should have surprised no one. It fits with his personality and history. He is a smart man, but not a wise one. You can see it in both his public career and his private life.
Intelligence and wisdom are very different things. For example, a smart person may want to be the smartest person in the room, but a wise person wants to be in the room with the smartest people. A smart person may spend a great deal of time developing sweeping, elaborate, and internally consistent ideas, but a wise person spends his time identifying a few simple ideas and practicing how to deliver them persuasively. A smart person may place a great value on self-actualization, but a wise person reserves a higher place for self-discipline.
While there is nothing wrong with attracting smart people into the ranks of political leadership, wisdom is a far more important trait. A leader can hire highly intelligent people to fill key roles, give him ideas, and carry out his directives. But if he is unwise himself, it is unlikely that he will successfully hire for wisdom — or listen to it.
President Obama is another person who exhibits far more intelligence than wisdom. He is the ideal candidate of the academic Left, for whom verbal acuity and abstract thinking are markers of status. Gingrich has a far different ideology, obviously, but he is also essentially a man of the intelligentsia. You listen to such people. You learn from them. You honor their intellectual accomplishments. But you don’t put them in charge of anything.