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Get Out and Get Active

Jackie Gingrich Cushman on

The news swirling around us this week is about the war in Ukraine, the variability in the stock market, the rapid increase in the rate of inflation and the continuing issues related to the supply chain. It's too easy to be drawn into the news and confusion of the day, to respond on Twitter or to lash out at others due to fear and uncertainty.

But instead of thinking solely about such matters, important though they may be, I've been attempting to focus my attention and efforts on an area where they can make a difference -- my community. My guide in this effort is President Teddy Roosevelt.

In 1901, when President William McKinley was assassinated, the 42-year-old Roosevelt became the nation's 26th -- and youngest -- president. He served until 1909. Though born sickly, he worked hard to improve his fitness, served as a Rough Rider in the Spanish-American War, and spent an enormous amount of time out West, where he rode horses and hiked. He challenged not only himself but others as well, both physically and mentally.

On October 12, 1912, Roosevelt was preparing to give a speech in Milwaukee when he was shot in the chest. He pressed onward and gave the speech before heading to the hospital.

He described his philosophy of life in an article published in the October 1918 issue of Metropolitan Magazine: "Only those are fit to live who do not fear to die: and none are fit to die who have shrunk from the joy of life. Both life and death are parts of the same great adventure."

This quote reminds me that life transcends us as individuals; we live in a nation and a world that are larger than us and that will endure after we are gone. The best that we can do is to leave a positive mark for generations to come.

The second message Roosevelt communicated is that there are things we can do ourselves. By that, I don't mean things we can get politicians to do or things we can assign to bureaucrats to do, but things we can do as individuals to give ourselves, our children and our grandchildren a better future. This means that we must focus on building rather than on tearing down.

"What can I do to leave the world a little better?" is a question we should ask ourselves often.

While we are individuals, we are also part of an American civilization that gives us freedom, security and prosperity. We are able to have a limited government only if we have an active civil society. Civic activity and philanthropy are parts of the American fabric. Roosevelt was active and engaged in bettering society. As a conservationist (he started the National Park Service), he made a lasting impact on the preservation of land from which even children yet unborn will benefit.

 

His third message is that it is important to work hard. "There are two things that I want you to make up your minds to: first, that you are going to have a good time as long as you live -- I have no use for the sour-faced man -- and next that you are going to do something worthwhile, that you are going to work hard and do the things you set out to do," Roosevelt told a group of schoolchildren in Oyster Bay, New York, on Christmas 1898.

This also includes the message that, while working hard, be happy.

This quote reflects Americans' belief in hard work and the impact that hard work has on our culture and civilization. One of the benefits of hard work can be civil peace. When we are busy creating, we are too busy to be destructive. We need more creation and less destruction today.

We often get caught up in society's obsession with possessions: having a larger house, a nicer car, better clothes and the right accessories. Possibly, this is because this is an easy way to keep score. By continually focusing on what people do, specifically in regard to furthering our civilization in such a way that we create a better future for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren, we create long-term value for our civilization.

Can you imagine if we had a nation of doers, not possessors? We need to create a nation of doers who understand that it's better to build than to destroy. Let's get out there and get active.

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To find out more about Jackie Gingrich Cushman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

Copyright 2022 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
 

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