A lively discussion about success

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Perhaps you have already had a sense of the “me” in Acme.

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I’m talking about the iconic company in the Road Runner / Wile E. Coyote cartoons. Throughout the series, the not-so-cunning dog attempts to catch the swift bird using a long list of outlandish products made by the fictional company.

Each either fails spectacularly or backfires in the worst way possible.

Ironically, the name Acme comes from the Greek word meaning peak or zenith – the highest point. It is therefore not surprising that companies in several sectors have adopted the name, to signify quality and superiority.

As early as the 1870s there was the Acme whistle, the Acme siren appeared in 1895, and Acme traffic lights were a fixture in Los Angeles when cartoons were made there.

But the Acme name really took off in the 1920s when the Yellow Pages became popular. To get a top spot in the alphabetical phone book, many companies changed their name to Acme – and the association with quality didn’t hurt.

According to Warner Brothers host Chuck Jones, it was this combination of priority and supremacy that gave Acme the name, not the common misconception that Acme stood for A Company Makes Everything or American Company Making Everything. .

Either way, the brand’s name quickly found its way onto everything from bricks to rubber boots. Even early Sears catalogs featured Acme anvils, which featured heavily in the cartoons.

Before long, Acme became a generic company name in movies or TV shows like I Love Lucy, Andy Griffith, and The Three Stooges.

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But it was Wile E. Coyote who made the company most famous. In anime, Acme is based in Fairfield, New Jersey. In others, its many products include the Rocket Sled, Spring Shoes, Invisible Paint, Giant Rubber Band, and Acme Dehydrated Rocks.

But the most detailed depiction of Acme himself can be found in the 1988 film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The plot revolves around the murder of the founder, Marvin Acme, and features many of the company’s products.

Although Acme’s delivery system in the cartoons makes Amazon extremely slow, the brand does not inspire trust. The products either don’t work or they explode in the coyote’s face, often quite literally.

When comedian Ian Frazier wrote a fictional legal complaint titled Coyote v. Acme, the New Yorker story inspired Hollywood.

So next year, a comedy of the same name will feature wrestler-turned-actor John Cena in a mix of live-action and computer animation. Cena will play Acme’s attorney, trying to beat Wile E. Coyote’s lawsuit seeking compensation for bodily injury, lost income, and mental suffering caused by Acme’s negligence.

I wouldn’t bet on the coyote this time either. Even as kids, we’re conditioned to shake our heads at his ill-fated pursuit of the Road Runner. Yet many of us experience an adult version of the same scenario.

Whether it’s intentional or not, we end up seeking success and a sense of inner meaning, relying on a whole range of tools that are supposed to allow us to get what we want.

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Pop culture, social media, and advertising are full of messages about how easy it is to be happy, popular, and imitated — if you have the right look, the right personality, and the coolest stuff.

Ironically, all of this is shrouded in an illusion of individuality that actually promotes conformity.

But since the goal is to be seen and to succeed, competition replaces cooperation. Twitter and Facebook make it clear that ego, anger, and outrage are the norm when someone gets in the way of what we think or want (beep, beep).

And everyone is defined by their personality, not by their character; the reach of their platforms, not their beliefs; and their performance, not their actual credibility.

Ambition, envy, and ruthless greed are repackaged as corporate loyalty and single-minded determination. Money and materialism become modern idols, and the good life outweighs the good in life. Yet anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation and suicide are epidemic.

It’s largely because the tools we use to try to capture happiness and meaning don’t work, or they backfire every time we get close. The proof is in the long list of causes cited by researchers for chronic dissatisfaction.

The most important are endless competition and comparison with others, guilt and shame, judging yourself too harshly, blaming others for things within your control, addictions and bad habits, not being true to yourself. even, mistakenly believing that we can never change, and thinking that we have to do everything by ourselves.

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All of this happens when we emphasize the “me” in Acme. So, from a faith perspective, the solution is to put God and others first.

“Let’s not get conceited, provoke each other, or be jealous. Don’t think you are too important to help others [and] pay close attention to your own work so you don’t have to compare yourself to anyone else.

At the right time, we will reap a harvest of blessings if we don’t give up. (Gal. 4:25, 26; 6:2-9)

It’s actually fairly easy. Don’t buy what the Acmes of the world offers. Better yet, be careful what you pursue in the first place. That’s it, friends.

A former television journalist and college professor, Rick is pastor of a non-denominational independent church in Brantford, Ontario called Followers of Christ (www.followers.ca). Share your thoughts with Rick at info@followers.ca

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