The mistaken truth of self-accomplishment

Frank Sinatra was widely known as a man whose ego was outweighed only by his talent. In the 1950s, his charisma and musical ability exceeded that of his predecessor, Bing Crosby, bringing an edgier persona to the public’s eyes and ears.

In 1938, the singer was convicted of seduction, according to the Crime Museum, which would later turn into an adultery charge. And in his marriage to Ava Gardner, The List notes that Sinatra’s abusive nature and infidelity were common. Yet, to the public, he was on top of the world, and all things seemed to be going his way.

In his 1968 song “My Way,” Sinatra sings of self-assured arrogance with all the confidence of a president. “And through it all, when there was doubt / I ate it up and spit it out / I faced it all, and I stood tall / And did it my way.”

As if the singer needed to boast remarks of success, Sinatra touted his own climb into history’s trophy room by ensuring his plaque was pressed with the name Frank Sinatra alone. This would be right, after all, but only if his success depended merely upon himself.

There are no successes that are solely self-dependent. It is only pride that tells oneself “It was all me” when considering that which has been obtained. When a singer records a best-selling track, he never thanks those who made the microphone he sang into. When a soldier conquers a country, he gives no credit to the maker of the guns with which the enemy was repulsed. Napoleon Bonaparte, like Sinatra, praised himself almost exclusively for his successes, saying “If you want something done well, do it yourself.”

There is no “greatest generation” or “self-made” man, as all that has been done by it or him is a new configuration of a string of circumstances that none have previously seen. It is easy to listen to some who attribute their success to themselves alone such as Sinatra and Napoleon, but that is only because some are better liars than others. When Frank Sinatra convinced the crowds that he alone was the reason for his fame, he did so singing “My Way,” which was written by Paul Anka. Sinatra didn’t even write the words that he used to place himself on pop music’s high pedestal.

“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.” Romans 12:16 is a command to all to abandon self-obsessive behavior and seek to identify with the downtrodden.

The pride of accomplishment or position diminishes the work of the Lord, and it downplays the role others play in any person’s success. “My Way” is little more than a lie Frank Sinatra sang repeatedly, convincing others that through all of his shortcomings and issues, he controlled the ups and downs through which he travelled. It is vital that when looking back on times of prosper and success that the armies who stood near are not forgotten as they were by Napoleon. No, none can ever honestly say “I did it my way.”     

Kilker is the opinion editor for the Liberty Champion

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