Successive Approximations

Folding Your Hand

Re-reading the notes I wrote while reading Skin In The Game a few years I came across this, in response to something in the first chapter:

Roman emperor charging into battle to face certain death is meaningful only in a setting of honor and institutions. It is folding your current hand so that the next guy that takes your seat will have a fresh start and a strong hand. It only works if your sacrifice, transmitted via the public, transfers to your successor. Without that the incentives are to bankrupt the country by playing your own hand until the bitter end.

Feels very relevant right now.

Self-sacrifice only makes sense if you feel that you're a part of a group that's more meaningful than yourself. The peaceful transition of the Presidency is important only to someone who sees himself as an American, a member of the group which means more than the individual.

For all the harm that identity politics has done, there is a kernel of virtue in the idea that by identifying with a group or a tribe or a nation and acting to serve it selflessly, you can lay down your own life in a way that will benefit the group after you're gone. Or consider the stonemason in the Middle Ages working on the cathedral that was begun before he was born and will be completed after he has died. But he knows it will stand as a testament to God for centuries.

Ben Berry

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