Human Nature & The Value of Failure

Human nature dictates that we all act in our own individual self-interest. We hope that one’s self-interest is enlightened enough to apply the Golden Rule properly, but we can’t regulate that it must be. We are by nature selfish, which is not to suggest we are evil. We define justice as receiving what we deserve through our efforts, both good and bad. We expect to receive whatever punishment or lack of reward comes from poor or nonexistent effort, or even unsuccessful effort. We can’t be successful without risking failure.

Some of us are branded as selfish because we expect to receive the rewards of our own accomplishments and feel no obligation to share them with strangers. They claim that this thought process is contrary to the Golden Rule – which they define as “Neighborly-ness”.

It is now considered selfish for one to want to retain his own money derived either from his own efforts or from that of his family, but it is seen as altruistic for a politician to require that he instead turn it over to someone else who has not earned it. Why is it selfish for a man to want to keep his own money, but altruistic for another to demand that he not? The Golden Rule? Kindness?

As conservatives we understand the concept of rewarding achievement and success, and ignoring or punishing failure. We reject the idea and the false morality of forcing another’s obligation to his family upon us based on a twisted moral code. We expect to be rewarded for success and accept the consequences of failure.

The Value of Failure

Failure is not immoral; it is not evil. Failure is necessary, it is beneficial. It is an essential step in the learning process of a successful person. Without risking and possibly suffering the consequences of failure, we can not gain the knowledge and experience necessary to succeed. Depriving another of his right to fail is depriving him of his right to learn and his right to succeed. We would even argue his right to equal opportunity is jeopardized by limiting his opportunity for failure.

Sometimes we have a hard time expressing this in logical argument because we are dealing with people who’s primary focus is in achieving equality of results, not equality of opportunity. Understanding the difference is critical to our survival.

Many of our elected politicians seem to believe that since man is equal, if results are not equal, then there must be something wrong with the system. The structure therefore has to be changed in some way to level the playing field in order to obtain equality of results. If, as we all know, men are all created equally, then equality of results must be the result in a fair society. How could any other outcome occur?

Although it clearly states in the Declaration of Independence that “All men are created equal”, the origination of the phrase was from the Bible, though not with those specific words. The following passage is lifted from the pages of our own Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

This section in the Declaration of Independence is further clarified by the Constitution and Bill of Rights which goes on to explain that by equality, they mean equality of opportunity, equality as treated by the state, not equality of brains, talent, effort or result. Only a fool, (who would prove the point by merely trying to make the argument) could possibly suggest that all men are created equally in a physical and intellectual sense.

This is a good thing. The misinterpretation of the phrase “All men are created equal”, results in a confused idea that results must therefore be equal. No, our founders meant that in the eyes of government all men were created equal and were to be treated equally under the law. They were given equal rights at birth by our Creator, not equal talents. They were not to be disadvantaged for higher ability or artificially assisted for inferior ability, competence or effort.

We are not equal and never will be. No government system or program can make it so. Some are smarter, some stronger, some work harder, some reason better. Those with lesser ability can learn if they want to, but like everyone else, they must fail in order to learn what does not work. No matter how much we try to pretend people are equal, they are not. Because of this humans will never equally achieve. Never.

Some of us are tall and so have a better chance to be a professional basketball player. It is hard even for the most ardent government-lover to deny this fact of physical attribute. Some are fat and so will not be jockeys, but continuing in the sports analogy, maybe they could be sumo wrestlers. Should it be a requirement that every professional basketball team have three short, fat players because they wouldn’t have a chance to earn the big pro basketball athlete money without that mandate? Should sumo wrestling federations rearrange their rules so tall skinny guys can compete more effectively with those giant fat monsters?

When it comes to the brain, - hold on now, get ready for heretical statement – we are not equal. Some are born more intelligent, more ambitious, or just have an instinctively better work ethic. Similar opportunity will always result in inequality of result. Therefore there must be forced inequality of opportunity to arrive at equality of result.

Some are smarter and may be great scientists, some not so much, so have to choose a different profession and lifestyle. People are not just different, some are actually better yes, superior in statistically measurable ways in certain areas and so will naturally have a better chance to succeed more in those fields. Such is human nature.

Human nature being what it is, we want rewards for being productive and successful. When our rewards are taken from us and given to someone else who did not earn them based on yet a third person's erroneous interpretation of the Golden Rule, we tend to work less hard, or not at all. If equality of results is dictated by government, why would anyone bother to try harder?

NEXT: The Immorality of Collectivism