I was recalling the other day of situations in which someone who came before me had done something that affected me. We often believe that if given a chance at something, we would succeed. Unfortunately, the people who might give us that chance have been burned before. Someone before us came along and ruined the opportunity for us.
A lot of my focus lately has been on National issues involving poverty, racism, and sexism. I have been trying to figure out why, in 2015 America, we have so much evidence of these things. It dawned on me that someone before us, did something stupid, and scars remain from those actions. What I find particularly interesting, however, is the complete lack of individual responsibility that is taken on each of these issues.
Do women belong in the kitchen, barefoot, and pregnant? That question alone can spark quite a controversy. Let me ask it another way; have women been honored with the potential title of motherhood, been blessed with culinary skills, and deserve to be served by men so they don’t have to work? I hope I have you thinking.
Rhetoric. It is one of my favorite words, I have kind of a love/hate relationship with it. The two questions I asked above have the identical meaning. So where did we go wrong? Was it the person asking the question? The way it was asked? Or the way it was perceived? The feminist movement is of no surprise to me. Someone before us stated their beliefs like the first question, and I’ll admit, I am not even a woman and find that offensive and demeaning. However, the second question is pretty uplifting and honoring.
We have an ugly history in America involving such things as slavery and involuntary servitude. Our predecessors recognized how ugly it was at the time and wrote the 13th amendment to the Constitution to prevent it further. There were some before us that actually thought that it was OK to treat another human being like cattle because of their skin tone. How terribly disturbing that is. Here we are again though, being punished for something someone did that came before us. I cannot claim to understand fully what it is like to live in America today as a black man. Like I mentioned earlier, I empathize with women and I can do the same with black people. I have to admit that I would be hesitant to trust certain individuals, especially if they showed even the slightest sign of the old way of thinking.
Do you believe poor people were destined to be that way? Maybe not, and I don’t, but they do. Our nation has created an environment that not only encourages, but rewards poverty. We, as a people, give the impression to those that live in poverty that they are stuck there by continuing to offer them handouts. Have you ever heard the phrase “grew up with a silver spoon in their mouth”? How is the way we treat our poor any different? Astronomical amounts of money are spent on job training programs and inner city coaching. Would you show up? I mean look at the alternative, you can just sit at home and wait for the next check to arrive. You can even fool around loosely, get pregnant, and get a bigger check. We are promoting poverty. Once again, this is the result of something someone did before us.
If I attempt to rope this all together into some sort of a point, I believe it would be this: We are lazy. We know things are bad, but we do nothing about it. I have talked with Congressmen and Senators and the amount of frustration they have from the lack of participation from those they serve is quite large. “We the People” don’t want to deal with it. How many problems in America today can we relate to that?
It should be no surprise that a very small percentage of the population can make such great change in our nation. They will share an idea and deliver it with passion. They actually give a darn. Do you? When was the last time you were frustrated by something you saw happening around you? It probably was not that long ago. When was the last time you did something about it?
It can be frustrating to be left an ugly inheritance by those before us. It should be frustrating enough to drive us to do something about it. The next generation can be taught one of two things:
- You can teach them to do nothing but complain about the way things are around them (and this lesson is taught quite well by example). or
- You can teach them how to get informed, get active, and seek change, even if it is within themselves (this one takes a bit more effort).
The right thing to do is always the harder thing to do.