The Myth of the Self-Made Man or Woman

A recent post suggested that while we are individually insignificant we may be significant nonetheless by being a part of something larger than ourselves. This led me to consider how dependent we are at all times on others. In this spirit, I say, remember that …

We were all once helpless infants who survived only because of the care and concern of the adults around us.

We didn’t educate ourselves. We were taught by teachers, who used books others had written, in schools others had built.

We don’t drive to work alone. We drive on roads that someone else built, in vehicles others constructed, over bridges engineers designed.

We don’t stay healthy alone. We rely on caregivers, pharmaceuticals, hospitals and medical research past and present. 

We eat food others grow, wear clothes others produce, and live in shelters others construct.

And we breathe the oxygen that trees provide, drink the earth’s water (after it has been cleaned by others), and feel our sun’s warmth. With any of them, we couldn’t survive at all. 

Remember that all of our wealth comes originally and continually from the sun’s energy that plants convert into the food that fuels our bodies and their brains. 

Never believe the myth of the self-made man.

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10 thoughts on “The Myth of the Self-Made Man or Woman

  1. Amen! (It is Sunday after all.)

    After your recent note to me about Ayn Rand, I thought I should add that this myth of the self-made hero was one of the major themes of my novel “Draining the Swamp” as a direct rebuttal to Rand’s crap philosophy. I’d go even further now to remind us that there is no such thing as a self-made species!

  2. “Self-made species,” I like the term, and what nonsense it denotes.


  3. If we didn’t educate ourselves, that could be because we were prevented from educating ourselves. How many of our waking hours were timetabled, and spent listening to a teacher intoning the creed prescribed to us by anonymous bureaucrats, then parroting this creed and being judged on our conformity, instead of browsing freely in a rich and deep library?

  4. All very true John, yet billions have the same provided for them but don’t make any difference with it.

    What would you call those who stick out above the average?

  5. As of 2017 we have had proof positive of the myth of the self-made man– at the apex of the governments of all three major nations: US, China, Russia.
    [A personal note: know you must be swamped with emails; mine were to tell you I cannot upload a photo for your comments section- site wont allow it.
    Wanting to upload a photo is not due to vanity, it is an interest in not being anonymous: a faceless commenter is a hider. Amen.]

  6. “If you look behind every exceptional person there is an exceptional teacher. When each of us thinks about what we can do in life, chances are we can do it because of a teacher.”

    (Stephen Hawking, from his final book, BRIEF ANSWERS TO THE BIG QUESTIONS)

  7. Although we don’t want to abandon optimism, we want to temper our optimism with the knowledge that the self-made oligarch always wins– because he can buy enough people out. Knowing that, today’s situation is shocking yet not surprising.
    We want to be optimistic in thinking the above will change; we also know in the back our minds it’ll be a very long time.

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