On the Value, as a Sociological Principle, of the Rule to Mind One’s Own Business
In this essay, collected in What Social Classes Owe to Each Other (1911), Sumner denounces busybody social reformers who want to run other people’s lives.
WILLIAM GRAHAM SUMNER
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The danger of minding other people’s business is twofold. First, there is the danger that a man may leave his own business unattended to; and, second, there is the danger of an impertinent interference with another’s affairs. The “friends of humanity” almost always run into both dangers. I am one of humanity, and I do not want any volunteer friends. I regard friendship as mutual, and I want to have my say about it. I suppose that other components of humanity feel in the same way about it. If so, they must regard any one who assumes the rôle of a friend of humanity as impertinent. The reference of the friend of humanity back to his own business is obviously the next step.
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Seems as true now as it was then.
Think about if we had avoided WW1, 2, Korea, Viet Nam?
The USA should emulate the Swiss.
Imagine the vigor if we focused on our own problems. And, not our neighbors.
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