Some have a strong belief that we are all formed at birth, and we have been apportioned our share of talent, wit, and intelligence; Period, full stop. How boring. Everything predetermined. It may be true that without stimulation, encouragement, and opportunity, areas of potential may never develop. Take politics for an example.
Sigh…I’ll never be Senator Carreras…my upbringing focused on things other than politics. In fact, in my home, with a few rare exceptions ( Jacob Javits, the Roosevelts, and Nelson Rockefeller), being called a politician was down there with being a pimp.
If I had walked in on a post-dinner conversation at my home and told my parents that I intended to follow a career in politics, I would rapidly come to rue my idiocy. My father especially would have been proud for me to select seaman, marine engineer, carpenter, even bridge officer. But Politician? He would have reacted with true Latin temper at his son’s stupidity. No Carreras had ever fouled the family name in such a manner. Pirates, sure, sharp dealing merchants? of course ! – politicians? Never.
On the other hand, my mother would have been less verbal but no less disapproving. For her, a simple, “Oh, Louis!” said in that drawn-out manner that said it all would have sufficed. I would have crept away to someplace damp and dark in my shame.
So it’s more than what we get apportioned. It’s how we are encouraged, or in this case, discouraged.

But does it all have to be bad? Getting the proper guidance, rewards, and occasional punishments for poor behavior shapes behavior. Perhaps the problem with our politicians are us? We reward them for the wrong things, and rarely correct their poor behavior. Discouraging entry into politics because we fail to manage political behavior puts us at risk because only the venal will then participate.

As Plato put it: “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”


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