The Wisdom Chronicle

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The Wisdom Chronicle is designed to bring nuggets of wisdom from the dozens of books I read every year. I endeavor to share the best of what I have gleaned. The determination of relevance lies with you. Blessings, J. Whiddon

521. INTERSTATES “One of President Eisenhower’s most enduring contributions is the interstate highway system—something few twenty-first-century Americans can imagine life without. Ike was first inspired to undertake this initiative shortly after the invasion of Normandy on D-Day in 1944. After troops had landed, they had some difficulty navigating the back roads of France. Those navigational difficulties impaired the American troops’ ability to drive the Nazis back into Germany and finish the war. When the Americans finally did make it to Germany, they found that the Germans had a much more sophisticated roadway system than the French. Ike never forgot that, and as president, he was determined that in the U.S. the road system would be modeled after the one in Germany.”

The interstate highway system contributed to this problem by making our country smaller. It has given those who are motivated to commit violent crimes easier access to potential victims and has allowed them to escape more quickly to destinations that are farther away.

Transportation has also changed the nature of crime in America. Before we had an interstate system, the most violent crimes were between people who knew one another. Over the last several decades, interpersonal crimes against total strangers have been on the rise. The Internet has accelerated this trend—creating, in effect, a new virtual interstate highway system that brings people closer together, for both good and bad purposes.”

Excerpt From: Adams, Mike. “Letters to a Young Progressive.”

522. GENERAL MacARTHUR General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in the Pacific during World War II, said this in December 1951:

“In this day of gathering storms, as moral deterioration of political power spreads its growing infection, it is essential that every spiritual force be mobilized to defend and preserve the religious base upon which this nation is founded; for it has been that base which has been the motivating impulse to our moral and national growth. History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual reawakening to overcome the moral lapse or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster.”

Excerpt From: Lee, Richard. “In God We Still Trust: A 365-Day Devotional.”

523. NOTHING NEW “In the 1650s and ’60s the long-simmering fear of God’s wrath grew acute. Every Christian knew his Bible, and everyone knew that the Bible talked of a day of judgment. The question was not whether the world would end but how soon the end would come. The answer, it seemed, was very soon.

Almost no one believed in the idea of progress. (The very scientists whose discoveries would create the modern world did not believe in it.) On the contrary, the nearly universal belief was that the world had been falling apart since Adam and Eve were banished from Eden. Now, it seemed, the fall had accelerated. From high and low, in learned sermons and shrieking pamphlets, men pointed out the signs that the apocalypse was near. Books on the Second Coming were written by the score during this period.”

Excerpt From: Dolnick, Edward. “The Clockwork Universe.”

524. WHY SCIENCE SO COMPLICATED? “God “took delight to hide his works, to the end to have them found out.”

Why would God operate in such a roundabout way? If his intent was to proclaim His majesty, why not arrange the stars to spell out BEHOLD in blazing letters? To seventeenth-century thinkers, this was no mystery. God could have put on a display of cosmic fireworks, but that would have been to win us over by shock and fear. When it came to intellectual questions, coercion was the wrong tool. Having created human beings and endowed us with the power of reason, God surely meant for us to exercise our gifts.

The mission of science was to honor God, and the best way to pay Him homage was to discover and proclaim the perfection of His plans.”

Excerpt From: Dolnick, Edward. “The Clockwork Universe.”

525. WELFARE “If, through guarantees, monopolies, or socialism, one’s paycheck is ensured without effort, the majority will do the minimum possible to continue to receive the reward. We first discovered this in Frédéric Bastiat’s book, The Law.

Bastiat wrote: “Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.

But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.

Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain—and since labor is pain in itself—it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it.

When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labor.”

Plunder can be as simple as receiving a check without working, or as big as one country invading another to receive the fruits of another’s labor. Either way the desire is within the heart of man and must be accounted for. In other words, each system must be designed with this inherent attribute in mind, or the organization will decline when people find ways to resort to plunder rather than productivity.

As long as our system encourages various types of plunder rather than making work the easiest way to succeed, we’ll continue to decline. No politician or political party can do anything against this truth.

Excerpt From: Orrin Woodward & Oliver DeMille. “LeaderShift.”

526. SURPRISE QUOTE? “The Fed. govt. must and shall quit this business of relief. Continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to National fibre. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.”

— FDR, 1935

527. PEACE THRU STRENGTH “The vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk its own destruction.”

— D. Eisenhower

528. RESULTS OF WEAK VIRTUES “It is my purpose . . . to show how easily the tragedy of the Second World War could have been prevented; how the malice of the wicked was reinforced by the weakness of the virtuous.”

–W. Churchill

529. DOCTORS AND COMPUTERS “Being led by the screen rather than the patient is particularly perilous for young practitioners, Lown suggests, as it forecloses opportunities to learn the most subtle and human aspects of the art of medicine—the tacit knowledge that can’t be garnered from textbooks or software. It may also, in the long run, hinder doctors from developing the intuition that enables them to respond to emergencies and other unexpected events, when a patient’s fate can be sealed in a matter of minutes. At such moments, doctors can’t be methodical or deliberative; they can’t spend time gathering and analyzing information or working through templates. A computer is of little help. Doctors have to make near-instantaneous decisions about diagnosis and treatment. They have to act. Cognitive scientists who have studied physicians’ thought processes argue that expert clinicians don’t use conscious reasoning, or formal sets of rules, in emergencies. Drawing on their knowledge and experience, they simply “see” what’s wrong—oftentimes making a working diagnosis in a matter of seconds—and proceed to do what needs to be done.

Put a screen between doctor and patient, and you put distance between them. You make it much harder for automaticity and intuition to develop.”

Excerpt From: Carr, Nicholas. “The Glass Cage: Automation and Us.”

530. THE WORLD’S VIEW “…upon coming into the world, we soon find that wisdom and virtue are by no means the sole objects of respect; nor vice and folly, of contempt. We frequently see the respectful attentions of the world more strongly directed towards the rich and the great, than towards the wise and the virtuous.”

Excerpt From: “The Book of Moral Sentiments” by Adam Smith

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