Many of us remember the TV sitcom from the 1970’s, All in the Family. Archie Bunker, the gruff, bigoted, but really a soft-touch at heart, husband was the main character. His son-in-law, the free-spirited, hippie type, Mike Stivic (dubbed “Meat Head” by Archie) was one of Archie’s main antagonists.
In one episode, Mike and Archie had a debate about how to put on socks and shoes. They were on a trip together and as they dressed for the day, Mike put on a sock, then a shoe, then another sock, then the other shoe. Archie observed this and responded, “What are you doing!?” Mike says, “Putting on my shoes.” Archie, always to the point says, “You don’t put on a sock and a shoe, a sock and a shoe; you should put on a sock, a sock, then one shoe at a time.”
I always remembered Mike’s response, “A sock, then a shoe is better. That way, in case there is a fire, at least you have one foot you can hop around on and keep it dry.” Makes perfect sense to me! Let’s face it, better to have one dry foot than two wet, soggy ones.
Isn’t that life though? It never ceases to amaze me how we experience so many varied perspectives on life. Some are thinking about the now; “two socks now will keep my feet warm.” And some are thinking about the future; “a sock and a shoe now may save me discomfort later.” Two socks now is immediate gratification and one sock and a shoe now could result in delayed gratification, forgetting the discomfort of the past.
This is the basic premise of the Free Market American economy we know as Capitalism that has carried this country for so long and in such a productive manner. In growing circles, Capitalism is getting a bad rap.
But I believe it is the only system that really works well, bringing freedom to the people, because it is the system that is based on the principles of Scripture.
Sadly, we find ourselves in the midst of an entitlement generation that is determined to demand what is “owed” them, instead of realizing the satisfaction and value of the fruit of their own hands. The generation being raised today is said to be the first generation in American history that is not a productive generation. We have regressed from a productive society to a consumer society. We would rather put both socks on now for our comfort and let someone else across the ocean, or those coming across the border illegally, do the hard work. We have the money. We will pay them, buy our video games and stay in the comfort of our familiar surroundings. Let’s keep our feet warm today and the ones coming after us will need to deal with whatever problems arise.
This mindset is fueled, in part, by the sports craze in our country. Most are not accomplished athletes, but have an insatiable desire to experience that gusto.
This is done from the stands or the couch as the favorite team is cheered or cursed from the easy, comfortable, non-competitive, non-exertion, cushioned seat. They would rather sit and cheer than get active and exercise. The principle is the same – pay someone else to make life comfortable for us today.
It is true that America has great wealth and it is good to enjoy it. But what happens when the producers stop producing, give in to the comforts of life, and start sitting and soaking in the fruit of those that went before? What happens when that fruit begins to decompose and production grinds to a standstill? Do we stand the chance of slogging around in soggy socks wondering where our freedoms went?
I’m just saying that there is an important, timely balance here and we are coming close to losing the freedoms we have because of a few that demand their way, not thinking about the country’s future. I see some wonderful young people out there that certainly are not sluggards and their desire is to be producers. But theirs is a lonely lot, and not the majority. These up-and-comers have an uphill road to trek, littered with nay-sayers and two sock comforters.
I believe those of us that have been producers have an important job to do; even an obligation to our country’s future. It involves getting out of the stands and into the game. It might involve wearing a sock and a shoe, hoping around and being in some uncomfortable surroundings as we encourage those that are coming behind us.
Look around at the young people you are associated with at church, in your neighborhood or city. Reach out to them and help them understand the principles of free enterprise, the blessings of hard, honest work and the opportunities that can be realized. Encourage them to think about the future and seize the moments they have.