Sunday, January 16, 2011

Admiral Hyman Rickover on "Man's Purpose in Life"

Most of the work in the world today is done by those who work too hard; they comprise a "nucleus of martyrs." The greater part of the remaining workers' energy goes into complaining. Employees today seldom become emotional about their organization or its output; they are only interested in getting ahead. And many organizations are killing their employees with kindness, undercutting their sense of responsibility with ever-increasing permissiveness. This is a fatal error, for where responsibility ends, performance ends also.

The sense of responsibility for doing a job right seems to be declining. In fact the phrase "I am not responsible" has become a somewhat standard response in our society to complaints of a breakdown in the system. This response is a semantic error. Generally what a person means is: "I cannot be held legally liable." Yet, from a moral or ethical point of view the statement is quite true. The person or organization taking this way out is truly not responsible; he is irresponsible.

The unwillingness to act and to accept responsibility is a symptom of America's growing self-satisfaction with the status quo. The result is a paralysis of the spirit, entirely uncharacteristic of Americans during the previous stages of their history. Even the complaints about high taxes and high prices are illusory. Behind them is hidden the reality that the majority, in terms of sheer creature comfort, never had it so good. Those who are still on the outside looking in are not strong or numerous enough to make a political difference.

The full essay is HERE.

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