Thursday, October 07, 2010

Another Vince Lombardi Post

I'm in the habit of occasionally posting excerpts from the last public speech Vince Lombardi gave. I've always carved out parts that any liberal can sign on to, like the part about love:

Mental toughness is spartanism with its qualities of sacrifice and self-denial, also the qualities of dedication and fearlessness and love. Not the love that you have for your wife or your wife may have for you. The love I am speaking of is loyalty, which is the greatest of loves. Teamwork, which is a form of love, and the love that one man has for another is respecting the dignity of another man. The love I speak of is not detraction. You show me a man who speaks ill of another and I'll show you a man who is only temporarily successful. Or one who is not charitable. Or one who is not loyal.

and so forth.

For a while, the full transcript of this speech seemed to have fallen from the internet, but I recently ran across it again at a "conservative" site ("conservative" is in scare quotes because it's Canadian conservatism, not the real beastie).

I think it might serve the Progressive Seeker to consider some of those parts of the speech that are likely to resonate with conservative thinkers.

I want to talk a little bit about attaining a goal, a success -- what I think it is. I want to say first that I think you've got to pay a price for anything that's worthwhile and success is paying the price. You've got to pay a price to win, you've got to pay a price to stay on top, and you've got to pay a price to get there. Success is not a sometime thing -- it is an all-the-time thing. In other words, you don't do what is right once in a while, but all of the time. Success is a habit just like winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing. So it has been the American zeal, gentlemen, to be first in everything that we do and to win and to win and to win.

Today we have a new ideology -- that is to be homogeneous, no letter grades, no classification. The only line that some of our people seem to want today is a line between passing and failing. There is no hunt for excellence in other words. And you and I both know that this is the easy way. The prevailing idea today is to take the easy way -- and that effort and that work are unnecessary.

You've got to pay a price. Losing is a habit. Be first in everything. Win, win, win. Classification of people is an ideology, and one that is superior to the alternative.

It just can't be overstated how thoroughly these ideas are inculcated into American kids as foundational values, as the primary lens through which all of life should be viewed. It's especially true of kids who play in organized sports, but all kids get this message in some measure.

In the right context, it's good stuff. This is the work ethic of high achievement, and it really is the road to excellence. The problem arises when people begin to view all of reality as a stinking football game, and everybody in the world (or at least everybody not on "our side") as an opponent to be vanquished. In that context, it becomes immature, and cruel, and destructive, and not just thoughtless, but anti-thought. This is not what Vince Lombardi would have wanted, but it's the American Politics of today.

Read the whole speech at the Canadian Conservative Forum.

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