I built that, but not alone: Welcome new readers

“…if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together…”

President Barack Obama, August 2012

I’m a writer, a novelist, an activist, artist and playwright. I’ve been to war, traveled extensively and have a supreme desire to better the world I was born into before I leave it, not commercially, but socially and humanely. A nurtured and near obsessive penchant for communicating that desire for a better world is my greatest tool, but it is nothing without the good people who perform and come to my plays, buy my books, read this blog and also those who argue vehemently with my assertions of sublime wisdom.  

In the Balkans during the break up of Yugoslavia, organizing relief for Rwandan Genocide victims, and struggling to understand bigotry and racial divides in this country, I came to a simple, single theme; that it is all based upon skewed and inflated perceptions of our own egos. There is a tendency in a world in which we are small and overwhelmed all too often to sub-divide the world down to smaller and smaller parcels to understand and pretend our own preeminence. We may define ourselves, for examples, Christians, and then Catholics when the other Christians piss us off, then Americans, midwesterners, from Illinois, then from Chicago, white or black, northside or westside, from a certain neighborhood, attending such and such school, disagreeable to neighbors and so forth until we are left alone in our own misgivings about the world around us. 

It is natural, as we are driven by our egos, needs and desires. But to accede to that solely is a capitulation to our base, anti-social, selfish natures. There must be a balance. We must balance ego with the understanding that we can all exist as nominal allies in this struggle to live and love and face the realities of the world and our own mortality. Rather than subdivide the world down to confirm our own self-importance, a negative, community means erasing a bit of ourself, multiplying ourselves out into the community where we face those inevitable realities in the embrace and nearness of others.

I could write in a cave, those thoughts and perspectives unchallenged as they echo back in some self-validating echo chamber. The illusion or hypocrisy is that the echo is there to assuage my loneliness in that cave. Rather, it is the community and all of you, dear readers, that gives any of this meaning, and for that I am deeply and unalterably in your debt. I did build that, but not alone.

About 900poundgorilla

W.C. Turck is a Chicago playwright and the author of four widely acclaimed books.His latest is "The Last Man," a prophetic novel of a world ruled by a single corporation. His first novel, "Broken: One Soldier's Unexpected Journey Home," was reccommended by the National Association of Mental Health Institutes. His 2009 Memoir, "Everything for Love" chronicled the genocide in Bosnia and the siege of Sarajevo. His third book "Burn Down the Sky" is published exclusively on Amazon Kindle. It was in Sarajevo at the height of the siege where he met and married his wife, writer and Artist Ana Turck. FOX NEWS, ABC, CBS News, the Chicago Tribune and The Joliet Herald covered their reunion after the war. He helped organized relief into Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. Turck has been a guest on WMAQ-TV, WLS in Chicago, WCPT, WBBM radio, National Public Radio, Best Of the Left and the Thom Hartmann show. He has spoken frequently on Human Rights, Genocide and Nationalism. In 2011, his play in support of the Occupy Movement, "Occupy My Heart-a revolutionary Christmas Carol" recieved national media attention and filled theaters to capacity across Chicago. He remains an activist to the cause of human rights and international peace. View all posts by 900poundgorilla

6 responses to “I built that, but not alone: Welcome new readers

  • Amanda Voirol

    I don’t entirely disagree with Obama here – no (wo)man is an island, and we should give credit where credit is due. My point of contention is “if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.”.

    What? Are you….what?!?!?! So…it’s not a small business owner who pays taxes, takes out small business loans, pays for advertising/marketing, inventory, labor, insurance for employees, overhead, etc.? We really should give credit where credit is due – but trying to take credit away from any citizen is insulting and foolish.

    He would have been better to say – you didn’t build that ALONE. But that’s not what he said, and the context of the following sentence reveals his intent. I’m all about charitable giving – but you gotta own something to be able to give it. Let’s not erode the meaning of ownership and it’s rights.

    • 900poundgorilla

      But see, he wasn’t talking about the business, he was talking about the roads and the infrastructure:

      There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.

      That’s why I put the entire quote in the piece for complete context and reference. Too many on the Right are either purposely picking out that one line, parsing words as a partisan weapon or just choosing not to read them fully. He never said a business owner didn’t build the business. Not at all. What he said is that the small business owner has the advantage of this community and country.

      To parse every single word that someone utters simply to be argumentative or oppositional is the foolish part. It also isn’t fair, and I hate this when the Left does it too, to ride every damn word a person says, an then says, he should have said it this way or that way. None of us like being told that we need to restructure every utterance, especially when it is simply because they are choosing just to be argumentative.

      As for ownership? When has anyone tried to erode ownership rights in this country. It hasn’t been Obama, at least not to the extent that the banks have often illegally and forcefully taken homes from citizens and those making payments and not in default. Check it, there is an industry dedictaed to that very thing. I will agree with you, though, that the government, the whole government as helped that to happen. But that is because we voters have relinquished and abandoned control. Romney and Ryan, for all their pretty hair, smiles and obtuseness are the frontmen for bnks and business that will turbo-drive those policies. Obama, at least can still be marginally swayed, as the speech indicates.

      Who was he addressing? Not the rich and powerful. That should tell you everything.

      Thanks for the comment.

  • Gorillas, Human Nature, The Tribe, The Ego, and Self « Low Lives

    […] 900 pound gorilla wrote this: “I came to a simple, single theme; that it is all based upon skewed and inflated […]

  • Drakakis

    Wonderful observations. Inspired me to risk some sloppy rambling on my own blog. Enjoying the rest of yours as well … Drak

  • claudia brown

    Spoken like the lovely, caring person I know you to be, Glenda. And you reflect my sentiments and logic as well. Thank you.

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