We Need More Theodore Roosevelts

We Need More Theodore Roosevelts


Legend tells us that the first stuffed animals that most of us had – the Teddy Bear – originates from President Theodore Roosevelt’s refusal to shoot a bear that had been tied up or trapped on account of it being an unsportsmanlike action.

Since then, individuals and companies have had quite a bit of business and capitalistic sense to bring stuffed animals to generation after generation – be it young toddlers or a Valentine’s Day date.

Perhaps the teddy bear could be just as popular for adults once again as it was for us as children, but for an entirely different reason.  Now that I am older, a Teddy Bear in a store window is a reminder of the ultimate renaissance man, the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt.  The Teddy Bear’s ode to the great man who dared mightily is a reminder to dare mightily ourselves, fight for what we believe in, and speak softly, but always carry a big stick.

President Theodore Roosevelt believed in the free market.  He believed in success, fortune, and the chase that these traits begat – the chase of innovation.  The man put his confidence in the Wright Brothers and airplanes at a time when airplanes – although catching on – were anything but a surefire return home.  Oh, and there was also that one incident where he delivered an entire speech while blood crept across his shirt from an assassination attempt.

Teddy Roosevelt also looked out for the little man.  His trust-busting efforts allowed young and inexperienced entrepreneurs the chance to make it with the big guys, without completely destroying the achievements of the big guys themselves.

My favorite thing about T.R. though, was his dedication to the natural beauty of our country, the preservation of the excitement of the outdoors, and to good sportsmanship.  From not shooting a defenseless bear, to the creation of the American National Park System, Teddy was the epitome of a renaissance man, of an incredible man.

Now, their hands may have been a little forced, but the partnership the Rockefeller family entered into to help Roosevelt achieve this vision (One I have no doubt they came to see themselves given the incredible museums, facilities, and parks we have today because of them) cast them in the same light, and often make me wonder if, not only should we strive to be like Theodore Roosevelt, but should we strive to be a society of a different time – capitalizing on the good previous generations did, and improving and correcting the bad.

Promoting the creation of wealth and innovation as T.R. did is a pathway to collective greatness.  Humans are inherently good.  We care.  We want to help.  We want to do good.  We want to leave legacies.  And while not all of us may be able to fund the next great American conservation system, we can all strive to do what we can with where we are and where we will be – and I have no doubt we will leave our nation and our world a better place.

Americans need to dare mightily so that we can have the chance to leave our legacy – to create the next park, to start the next conservation organization, to give the next entrepreneur a chance, or to go on the next – and often misunderstood - $50,000 exotic game hunt that could fund an entire wildlife preserve or save a species.

Dedication to success and to mother nature are not mutually exclusive.  Quite the opposite actually – they are mutually beneficial.  If we can learn to take the Theodore Roosevelt approach to life, to dare mightily, to look out for the little man, to congratulate the successful man, and to give back to our home, the world would be a much better place. 

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