Life transcends as individuals, we live in a nation and a world that is larger than us and that will endure after we are gone. A walk through Roosevelt’s family’s home underscores this fact. Though the original occupants are long gone, their legacy remains.
The second message is that there are things we can do ourselves. By that, I don’t mean things we can get the politicians to do or things we can assign to bureaucrats, but things we can do as individuals to give ourselves, our children and our grandchildren a better future.
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 because we have an active civil society. Civic activity and philanthropy are part of the American fabric. Roosevelt was active and engaged in bettering society. As a conservationist, he made a lasting impact on the preservation of land from which even children yet unborn will benefit.
The 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,” Theodore Roosevelt talking to schoolchildren in Oyster Bay, Christmas 1898.
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. This evokes Atlanta’s description as “a city too busy to hate.”
Americans’ have great freedom and, with it, great responsibility. Part of that responsibility is to pass American civilization onto future generations. As Newt Gingrich said at the 2006 groundbreaking of Atlanta’s Millennium Gate, “It’s almost as though we believe you can take this extraordinarily complex thing called ‘American civilization’ and figure that your children and your grandchildren would automatically learn to be Americans. It’s not true. It is not easy to learn to be an active member of American civilization, but it critical for us to be safe, prosperous and free.” Roosevelt reminds us that “the basis of good citizenship is the home.”
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 refocusing on what people do, specifically in regards to furthering our civilization in such a way that we create a better future of ourselves, our children and our grandchildren we create long-term value for our civilization.
Can you image if we had a nation of doers not possessors. How do we create a nation of doers, who understand that what you have is not as important as what you do with what you have; that it is better to have less and do more that to have more and do less.