When did you get old? Huck Finn 'got' it! Borders didn't.
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series from Our Values about core American Values. Dr. Wayne Baker is away this week and has invited Our Values guest columnist Terry Gallagher to discuss this week’s theme: When did you get old? Terry is a communications director for a nonprofit environmental organization in Ann Arbor.
We’ve been asking the question this week, “When did you get old?” Meaning when did you decide that it was too hard to change, to adapt to new conditions, to make the compromises needed to go forward?
It’s an issue not only for individuals but for all kinds of businesses and organizations, and for countries and states as well. The bankruptcy and liquidation of Borders is one example, and the budget staredowns in Washington and state capitals across the country are others. Some people would rather face death than change.
Being locked into the past, though, seems to be a violation of one of our American core values. Adaptability has always been one of our great strengths. We need to look no further for an example than that great American archetype, Huckleberry Finn.
At the very end of his trip down the river, rather than return home, Huck decides: “But I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before.”
The territory Huck’s lighting out for? It’s the future. Disorderly, unbounded, unsettled. A place of freedom and new opportunities.
In Washington and in states around the country these days, our leaders seem to be reminiscing about some Golden Age back in the past.
Instead we might need to light out for the territory.
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