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November 11, 2008

Laura Ingalls Wilder on Courage, Self-Reliance and Integrity

I've always been a fan of the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder - so much so that I even have books with other writings by both Laura and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. During her lifetime, Rose was an internationally-known journalist and writer, and it was due to her influence and support that her mother wrote her landmark children's series.

One of these books, titled A Little House Sampler (University of Nebraska Press, 1988, edited by William T. Anderson) features short stories, poems, and speeches by both women, and it's a speech titled "My Work" by Laura - first delivered to the Mountain Grove Sorosis Club in the early 1930s - that I would like to share with you. The speech focused on her new career, embarked upon in her 60s, as a children's writer.

No, I won't share the entire speech here; that would violate copyright law...but this one particular passage that, in the wake of the election of a man whose past statements and actions show him to be a socialist, is particularly poignant as it speaks to how America used to face crisis and hard times (page 180):

"There is still one thing more the writing of these books has shown me.

Running through all of the stories, like a golden thread, is the same thought of the values of life. They were courage, self reliance, independence, integrity and helpfulness. Cheerfulness and humor were handmaids to courage.

In the depression following the Civil War my parents, as so many others, lost all their savings in a bank failure. They farmed the rough land on the edge of the Big Woods in Wisconsin. They struggled with the climate and fear of Indians in the Indian Territory. For two years in succession they lost their crops to the grasshoppers on the Banks of Plum Creek. They suffered cold and heat, hard work and privation as did others of their time. When possible they turned bad into good. If not possible, they endured it. Neither they nor their neighbors begged for help. No other person, nor the government, owed them a living. They owed that to themselves and in some way they paid the debt. And they found their own way.

Their old fashioned character values are worth as much today as they ever were to help us over the rough places. We need today courage, self reliance and integrity.

When we remember that our hardest times would have been easy times for our forefathers it should help us to be of good courage, as they were, even if things are not all as we would like them to be."

Wise words. Where are the Laura Ingalls Wilders of today? Have they all succumbed to the "gimme" culture being pushed by big government advocates?


Where have all the traditional values of self-reliance and integrity gone?

Show Comments

Posted by Pam Meister at 01:42 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0) | History

Too many people today have been weaned on instant gratification. Rugged individuality is probably a foreign term to them. Unfortunately, too many parents feed these expectations.


Posted by: Kitty at November 11, 2008 02:12 PM

A dangerous non-conformist. We must ban her books.

Posted by: husband-dude at November 12, 2008 09:48 AM

Ingalls was a professed liberal, and right wingers have been trying to ban her books ever since they were published.

Dud - you are ignorant, if you don't know that her books have been banned in bible belt areas.

Posted by: mudkitty at November 14, 2008 09:17 AM

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