I typically don’t pay much attention to politics, but recently I saw a cartoon pop up on Facebook that didn’t seem to make sense. It showed President Obama standing with the Wright Brothers, an image of their airplane behind them, and a quote saying “You didn’t build that.”
I looked at that cartoon and it didn’t make sense. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a political axe to grind, but the quote just didn’t seem logical. I did a little reading, and of course, it turns out the quote was taken out of context.
The quote was a single line in a speech given at a campaign event in Roanoke, Virginia. Here is a larger snippet so you can get more of the context. President Obama leads into this snippet by talking about taxes and the deficit.
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President — because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.
Taken in context you can clearly see the big picture. The point being made is that we don’t do anything on our own. We have a huge support system that allows us to create, build, invent, and do anything we desire to do.
Apply this quote in context and take another look at the Wright brothers cartoon and you can see how silly it is out of context. Yet at the same time, the cartoon also makes sense in the greater context.
The Wright brothers didn’t build their airplane on their own. They had a support structure of education, roads, utilities, tools, and buildings. Most of these provided by others. They also sourced the materials to build their airplane from others. It took an entire infrastructure of people providing goods and services to turn a dream into a reality.
I don’t want this post to be taken as pro anyone or against anyone else. It’s not about that. It’s about doing the research instead of blindly accepting everything you are spoon fed by the media.
The media no longer reports merely on facts, they make every effort to sensationalize every story for maximum viewership because that leads to maximum advertising revenue. Add in the political mudslinging that has been in existence since the beginnings of politics and you have a recipe for deceptive and incomplete information.
Make the wise choice to do a little research before blindly sharing information with others through email, Facebook, and other electronic means that have become so popular. If you don’t you may look popular to the uneducated, but to those with the full knowledge of the topic, you look like a fool.