Quote of the Day: We Don’t Have to be Perfect to be Good

 

“Refusing to stand during the national anthem is not and should not be illegal. But such blanket rejection of American customs is admittedly now a collective narcissistic tic — and hardly sustainable for the nation’s privileged to sit in disgust for a flag that their betters raised under fire on Iwo Jima for others not yet born. Sometimes citizens can do as much harm to their commonwealth by violating customs and traditions as by breaking laws.

“Instead, freedom requires constant reinvestment in and replenishment of a nation’s traditions and ideals. Self-criticism of one’s country is salutary to ensure needed changes, but only if Americans accept that an innately self-correcting United States does not have to be perfect to be good – and especially when, in a world of innately flawed humans and failed states, it remains far better than any of the alternatives abroad.”
Victor Davis Hanson

The tragedy of the Left is that it mainly lives in ignorance. Its true believers see darkness and emptiness everywhere. They accuse everyone who doesn’t follow their dogma as racists, white supremacists, capitalists, and Nazis. For them, there is no release from their own misery, and they remind all of us that we have no right to be happy and satisfied. Our achievements rest on their desolation, and we must pay for it—forever.

As a result, they don’t know the rewards of gratitude—gratitude for living in a country where they can be as miserable as they wish—and as joyful as they choose. Gratitude for limitless opportunities for rewarding work and a peaceful existence. Gratitude has disappeared from their lives, because there is no room for it; they only have room for criticizing our imperfect yet glorious nation; they prefer to be unhappy than to seek out those chances to grow, learn and prosper. Their positions are unrealistic and their lives destined for disappointment.

For those of us who know that VDH is correct, we don’t expect a perfect country that is, after all, managed by flawed human beings. We take responsibility for pursuing self-reflection and for reviewing our goals as a country, and trying to determine where and how we can improve. Our criticisms at times may be brutal, but they are offered out of patriotism, our allegiance to the country, and to each other. We know our country’s existence is fragile, particularly when others attack America out of ignorance, misplaced expectations, and failed dreams. But the rest of us will persist in saving her, in preserving her foundations, in making her even better.

We must never give up.

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” — Someone whom I am too lazy to look up.

    • #1
  2. WiesbadenJake Coolidge
    WiesbadenJake
    @WiesbadenJake

    Several years ago I was in a graduate-level educational philosophy course; much of the course was focused on Marxist educational theory. One of the students (she has since become a good friend) grew up in Ukraine, the daughter of a Communist party member, and was educated in the Soviet system. Her commentary was delightfully contrarian to the majority of the class; she is a lover of freedom and very grateful to be raising her children in the USA. I am always touched by her gratefulness for being here, the freedoms we enjoy and sadly, too many take for granted. I loved her boldness and willingness to push back on the favored academic theories of our university culture. Those who have lived elsewhere, especially formerly iron curtain countries, seem to overwhelmingly like traditional American cultural values.

    • #2
  3. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    Susan Quinn: Sometimes citizens can do as much harm to their commonwealth by violating customs and traditions as by breaking laws.

    I was listening to a few courses on Roman history during the lockdown.  One of the things that stuck with me was  the role of breaking of norms, one at a time, that led to the demise of the Republic.  There were many other factors as well, but it occurred to me that when norms are transgressed, we have no enforcement mechanism.  Social pressure is the only  means.  So when those transgressing the norms have force behind them, then what does a citizenry do?

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):
    There were many other factors as well, but it occurred to me that when norms are transgressed, we have no enforcement mechanism.  Social pressure is the only  means.  So when those transgressing the norms have force behind them, then what does a citizenry do?

    Excellent question! For which I have no answer. I guess we must push back with even more force, GC, without destroying the country. It is hard to do.

    • #4
  5. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Susan, you have the most fertile mind I’ve ever come across. You seem to come up with an interesting subject — and an engaging take on that subject — almost every day.  Or is it every day?

    If we could vote on that sort of thing, I would vote for you as Ricochet’s Most Valuable Player.  When the nabobs of Ricochet chose you as a Contributor, they did all of us a favor.  

     

     

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Susan, you have the most fertile mind I’ve ever come across. You seem to come up with an interesting subject — and an engaging take on that subject — almost every day. Or is it every day?

    If we could vote on that sort of thing, I would vote for you as Ricochet’s Most Valuable Player. When the nabobs of Ricochet chose you as a Contributor, they did all of us a favor.

     

     

    Well now my head is really swelling, Kent! Gosh! A fertile mind–wow! Sometimes I feel guilty for writing so often, but I remind myself that people are free to ignore my posts. You have really made my day. Thank you.

    • #6
  7. American Abroad Thatcher
    American Abroad
    @AmericanAbroad

    I love this VDH quote.  I have lived abroad my entire adult life, and I have yet to come across anyone from a developing country who would not love have the opportunities of an American.  Too bad American leftists don’t feel the same way.  I happened to be in Cairo in 2003 right after the beginning of the Iraq War.  The Egyptian waiter I met first told me how much he hated George Bush.  When he brought my main course, he asked me if I could help him get a visa to America.   

    • #7
  8. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    The beauty of breaking enough norms is that you obliterate the concept. Do enough people today actually agree on “norms”? Serious question. In our family and social circle they exist, but is that big enough?

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin (View Comment):

    The beauty of breaking enough norms is that you obliterate the concept. Do enough people today actually agree on “norms”? Serious question. In our family and social circle they exist, but is that big enough?

    Very good point. I don’t know any more whether I have a circle beyond friends and family that agree on norms. I’m very skeptical. Those norms are imbedded in my values (or the other way around) and I think a lot of people don’t even know what norms and values are. 

    • #9
  10. American Abroad Thatcher
    American Abroad
    @AmericanAbroad

    Rodin (View Comment):

    The beauty of breaking enough norms is that you obliterate the concept. Do enough people today actually agree on “norms”? Serious question. In our family and social circle they exist, but is that big enough?

    It is a serious question, and I am beginning to think the answer is sadly no.  If we don’t have shared norms and values, the American experiment will struggle to continue.

    • #10
  11. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    American Abroad (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    The beauty of breaking enough norms is that you obliterate the concept. Do enough people today actually agree on “norms”? Serious question. In our family and social circle they exist, but is that big enough?

    It is a serious question, and I am beginning to think the answer is sadly no. If we don’t have shared norms and values, the American experiment will struggle to continue.

    I think this trend in our culture has led many of our politicians to discount and even ignore our Constitution as the law of the land even when they have sworn an oath to uphold it. The behavior in the Executive Branch has deteriorated to an even worse state where there are identified illegal acts that are revealed with no remedial action.

    • #11
  12. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    American Abroad (View Comment):

    I love this VDH quote. I have lived abroad my entire adult life, and I have yet to come across anyone from a developing country who would not love have the opportunities of an American. Too bad American leftists don’t feel the same way. I happened to be in Cairo in 2003 right after the beginning of the Iraq War. The Egyptian waiter I met first told me how much he hated George Bush. When he brought my main course, he asked me if I could help him get a visa to America.

    So it turned out he really loved George Bush. That’s funny. 

    • #12
  13. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Susan, you have the most fertile mind I’ve ever come across. You seem to come up with an interesting subject — and an engaging take on that subject — almost every day. Or is it every day?

    If we could vote on that sort of thing, I would vote for you as Ricochet’s Most Valuable Player. When the nabobs of Ricochet chose you as a Contributor, they did all of us a favor.

     

     

    I agree completely with your assessment.

    • #13
  14. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Susan, you have the most fertile mind I’ve ever come across. You seem to come up with an interesting subject — and an engaging take on that subject — almost every day. Or is it every day?

    If we could vote on that sort of thing, I would vote for you as Ricochet’s Most Valuable Player. When the nabobs of Ricochet chose you as a Contributor, they did all of us a favor.

     

     

    Well now my head is really swelling, Kent! Gosh! A fertile mind–wow! Sometimes I feel guilty for writing so often, but I remind myself that people are free to ignore my posts. You have really made my day. Thank you.

    Susan, I was going to write something very complimentary about your post, but Kent expressed it much better than I could.

    • #14
  15. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    American Abroad (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    The beauty of breaking enough norms is that you obliterate the concept. Do enough people today actually agree on “norms”? Serious question. In our family and social circle they exist, but is that big enough?

    It is a serious question, and I am beginning to think the answer is sadly no. If we don’t have shared norms and values, the American experiment will struggle to continue.

    I believe our education system, on the whole, K – graduate school is doing its very best to erase those norms and values, and turn patriotism into a dirty word.

    • #15
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Zafar (View Comment):
    So it turned out he really loved George Bush. That’s funny. 

    Right. Or not. He just wanted to get out of Egypt!

    • #16
  17. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):
    So it turned out he really loved George Bush. That’s funny.

    Right. Or not. He just wanted to get out of Egypt!

    I guess. Which he could do while loving, or hating, George Bush?

    • #17
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):
    So it turned out he really loved George Bush. That’s funny.

    Right. Or not. He just wanted to get out of Egypt!

    I guess. Which he could do while loving, or hating, George Bush?

    Of course! Bush wasn’t in charge of giving him his visa, right?

    • #18
  19. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Of course! Bush wasn’t in charge of giving him his visa, right?

    Certainly not directly.

    • #19
  20. Bunsen Coolidge
    Bunsen
    @Bunsen

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Susan, you have the most fertile mind I’ve ever come across. You seem to come up with an interesting subject — and an engaging take on that subject — almost every day. Or is it every day?

    If we could vote on that sort of thing, I would vote for you as Ricochet’s Most Valuable Player. When the nabobs of Ricochet chose you as a Contributor, they did all of us a favor.

     

     

    Well now my head is really swelling, Kent! Gosh! A fertile mind–wow! Sometimes I feel guilty for writing so often, but I remind myself that people are free to ignore my posts. You have really made my day. Thank you.

    I make a point to look at all of your posts, Susan.  You, She, and Bob the dog are reasons why I became a member and not just a reader.  But to your subject, It is not called the Grand Experiment for nothing.  BEING an American is hard work.  I for one want that challenge everyday. 

    • #20
  21. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):
    There were many other factors as well, but it occurred to me that when norms are transgressed, we have no enforcement mechanism. Social pressure is the only means. So when those transgressing the norms have force behind them, then what does a citizenry do?

    Excellent question! For which I have no answer. I guess we must push back with even more force, GC, without destroying the country. It is hard to do.

    When political norms are transgressed you do have a mechanism to respond – it just doesn’t result in an immediate change. (In fact it may not result in any change, depending on how many of you decide that it’s an issue when you vote.)

    From an article in The Smithsonian:

    Aspects of our modern politics reminded University of California San Diego historian Edward Watts of the last century of the Roman Republic, roughly 130 B.C. to 27 B.C. That’s why he took a fresh look at the period in his new book Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell Into Tyranny. Watts chronicles the ways the republic, with a population once devoted to national service and personal honor, was torn to shreds by growing wealth inequality, partisan gridlock, political violence and pandering politicians, and argues that the people of Rome chose to let their democracy die by not protecting their political institutions, eventually turning to the perceived stability of an emperor instead of facing the continued violence of an unstable and degraded republic. Political messaging during the 2018 midterm elections hinged on many of these exact topics.

    Though he does not directly compare and contrast Rome with the United States, Watts says that what took place in Rome is a lesson for all modern republics. “Above all else, the Roman Republic teaches the citizens of its modern descendants the incredible dangers that come along with condoning political obstruction and courting political violence,” he writes. “Roman history could not more clearly show that, when citizens look away as their leaders engage in these corrosive behaviors, their republic is in mortal danger.”

     

    • #21
  22. Boney Cole Member
    Boney Cole
    @BoneyCole

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Of course! Bush wasn’t in charge of giving him his visa, right?

    Certainly not directly.

    To be perfectly practical, if he was going to mention George W Bush at all, the smart thing to do was to be derogatory.  If he was trying for legal entry to the US, then every person he would be dealing with the State Department bureaucracy would be in perfect agreement with him. 

    • #22
  23. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Boney Cole (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Of course! Bush wasn’t in charge of giving him his visa, right?

    Certainly not directly.

    To be perfectly practical, if he was going to mention George W Bush at all, the smart thing to do was to be derogatory. If he was trying for legal entry to the US, then every person he would be dealing with the State Department bureaucracy would be in perfect agreement with him.

    To be fair, another Arab country was being destroyed by the US at that time – after ten years of crippling sanctions.  Some mixed feelings about the Land Of Liberty should not be surprising.  In fact a completely positive response would have been so bizarre as to be unbelievable.

    • #23
  24. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Susan, you have the most fertile mind I’ve ever come across. You seem to come up with an interesting subject — and an engaging take on that subject — almost every day. Or is it every day?

    If we could vote on that sort of thing, I would vote for you as Ricochet’s Most Valuable Player. When the nabobs of Ricochet chose you as a Contributor, they did all of us a favor.

     

    MVP, MVC

     

    • #24
  25. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    Le meglio è l’inimico del bene” Voltaire

    • #25
  26. JoshuaFinch Coolidge
    JoshuaFinch
    @JoshuaFinch

    Arahant (View Comment):

    “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” — Someone whom I am too lazy to look up.

    Confucius said: “Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.”

    Shakespeare said: “Striving to be better, we oft mar what’s well.”

    • #26
  27. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    American Abroad (View Comment):

    I love this VDH quote. I have lived abroad my entire adult life, and I have yet to come across anyone from a developing country who would not love have the opportunities of an American. Too bad American leftists don’t feel the same way. I happened to be in Cairo in 2003 right after the beginning of the Iraq War. The Egyptian waiter I met first told me how much he hated George Bush. When he brought my main course, he asked me if I could help him get a visa to America.

    Yankee go home!  Take me with you!

    • #27
  28. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):
    So it turned out he really loved George Bush. That’s funny.

    Right. Or not. He just wanted to get out of Egypt!

    I guess. Which he could do while loving, or hating, George Bush?

    Well, you know … the sort of country that could elect Chimpy McBushHitler must be the worst place on Earth.  

    • #28
  29. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Zafar (View Comment):
    To be fair, another Arab country was being destroyed by the US at that time

    The ghosts of the so-called Marsh Arabs were not available for comment.  

    • #29
  30. Nohaaj Coolidge
    Nohaaj
    @Nohaaj

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    American Abroad (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    The beauty of breaking enough norms is that you obliterate the concept. Do enough people today actually agree on “norms”? Serious question. In our family and social circle they exist, but is that big enough?

    It is a serious question, and I am beginning to think the answer is sadly no. If we don’t have shared norms and values, the American experiment will struggle to continue.

    I believe our education system, on the whole, K – graduate school is doing its very best to erase those norms and values, and turn patriotism into a dirty word.

    Your point of turning Patriotism into a dirty word, is absolutely correct, but the least of the norms and values being desecrated and destroyed by the indoctrination centers previously known as k-Graduate schools.  They have completely upended scientific gender, have denigrated the concept and support of the nuclear family (it takes a village, dontchaknow), instill CRT, and demonize effort, achievement and motivation, and reward deficiencies (if you claim a learning disability, the golden gates open- and there are some with legitimate issues, and what appears to be a multitude of others whose parents manipulate the system to gain advantage for their children).  The norms and values of achievement and moral code are not only being erased, they are all being banned, and perverted into something that is considered bad (insert your xxx’ist  descriptor here, ie. racist, misogynist ) 

    • #30