July 30th | Issue #79
1 Quote. 1 Reflection. 1 Question.
"For our own country, it has been a time of recurring trial. We have grown in power and in responsibility. We have passed through the anxieties of depression and of war, but to a summit unmatched in man's history. Seeking to secure peace in the world, while we have had to fight our way through the forests of the Argonne to the shores of Iwo Jima, and to the cold mountains of Korea."
-From: Dwight D. Eisenhower
-Source: First Inaugural Address, 1953
America was in a difficult place in 1953. It was a country trying to figure out its place in the world amidst chaos. Less than 20 years prior to Eisenhower's First Inaugural Address, the Great Depression hit, roughly a decade later, America got involved in WWII, and less than a decade after that, America went to fight on the Korean Peninsula.
When Americans were first asked, in August 1950, if deciding to defend South Korea was a mistake, only 20% thought it was, while 65% said it was not a mistake. However, by January 1953, soon after Eisenhower was elected and truce talks began again, the American opinion shifted yet again, with half of Americans saying the war was not a mistake, while a low of 36% said it was a mistake.
This shift is a natural human instinct. It is easy to support something from the beginning but as time goes on, we begin to question our goals and objectives. This is because when we pursue anything worthwhile—fitness, financial freedom, education, world peace—we must sacrifice, endure, and put real skin in the game.
As we pursue hard things, we grow our power and responsibility—as Eisenhower points out in the quote.
Keeping show up to the gym and you will get more fit.
Save more money and you will have more financial freedom.
Read more books and you will be more educated.
Uncle Ben says in Spiderman, "With great power comes great responsibility.". Like Peter Parker, we can use our powers to better the world and ourselves, or to harm it.
We can rerack our plates from the bench press or leave them there for the next person to deal with.
We can use the money we saved to pay off some credit card debt or to buy a new phone.
We can use our newly acquired knowledge to enrich a conversation or to make others around us look stupid.
We all know which choices are the responsible ones but yet, we don't always choose them. It's okay, we are only human after all. However, our choices compound over time no matter how big or small they are. I'll be the first one to admit that I make plenty of irresponsible choices. However, I am realizing as I get older, my power and responsibility are growing. The same probably goes for you.
The Korean conflict was central to Eisenhower’s 1952 presidential campaign, and his interactions with troops at the front lines of the war in December 1952 heavily influenced his push for an armistice, which took place on July 27, 1953. Today, the Korean Peninsula consists of two polar opposite countries. You have South Korea, a free and democratic country, and you have North Korea, a dictatorship with millions of suffering citizens.
Imagine what the Korean Peninsula would look like if Eisenhower made the wrong choices with his power and responsibility.
In what areas of your life are you responsible, and in what areas are you not?
ABOUT THE NEWSLETTER
The 1-Step Forward Newsletter is a weekly Sunday newsletter.
Each issue contains 1 Quote, 1 Reflection, and 1 Question each meant to guide you on the next step forward in your life towards improvement.
August 06 (newer)
"For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed." -Ernest Hemingway
July 23 (older)
"We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." I suppose we all thought that one way or another." -J. Robert Oppenheimer