Personal Responsibility, or Entitlement?
Over the years I have worked, and met alot of people. Granted, due to my line of work, Law Enforcement, my working contacts were not with everyday, hardworking people. With that said, from my observations of people in general and from my interactions with them, it would appear that our society has changed alot in the last 50 years regarding personal responsibility and entitlements.
When I was a young boy, my family was not in poverty, but we were not the middle class either. We received one new pair of pants, a shirt, undergarments, and a pair of shoes for school. The prior years clothing for school became our play clothes. It seemed that every year around March, my shoes would begin flapping. The sole by the toe would come lose and with every step make a slapping sound. Every month we collected bottles and would redeem them, that money was used to go to dollar nite at the drive inn theater. My parents, two brothers, the family dog and I would all pile into the car, for the monthly nite-out. At the time, I never thought of us as poor, we made our own toys, and always kept busy doing boy stuff.
During this time, my Father would always give us little nuggets to remember. The old sayings like, eight hours of work for eight hours of pay, better an hour early than a min. late. The one that I have always kept in my mind was, "A man only has two things, his word and his name, you best protect both".
In my 42 years of working I have noticed a big change in the way people view themselves and their jobs. There have always been those who were lazy, hated to work, always took short cuts, and basically felt that they were entitled to what others had, but did not believe that they had to work for it. Usually they were few and far between, and didn't last long on the job. But today there seems to be more and more people that blame their, parents, their upbringing, and society in general for their life. They believe that due to real, or perceived injustices that society as a whole owe them. Society today fosters these beliefs, by blaming everything and everyone for someone elses failures or bad decisions. I have talked to alot of people in all kinds of jobs and have found a growing number of them feel that they are owed a job. When they do get work, they believe that all they have to do is show up and get paid. It appears that many of these feel that showing up is enough, what they have to work too?
Why write about this now? Several days ago on the news, students were protesting the increases in college cost. Which is fine, its not a bad thing, and there are alot of ways to reduce costs. But what got my attention was that many of these students felt that they are owed a free education. Well, again as my Father used to say, Nothing is free, you have to work to get what you want. In my observations, when something is given for free it has no value, but if you have to work and struggle to reach a goal, or to get something, its value is dramatically increased.
I started working at the age of 12, I've mowed lawns, picked up garbage, washed dishes, pumped gas, picked strawberries and worked as a prison guard, police officer, and served my 6 years in the military. I have put myself through college, and other educational institutions. We all make decisions everyday, from the time we wake up, until we go to sleep. Some are easy, some are hard, and some just are. Regardless of how or why we make our decision, or what others may have to do with our decision, we own them, they are ours and we must accept the responsibility for those decisions good, bad or indifferent. Anyone with their own God given talents can obtain their goals, providing they take responsibility, never give up, learn from their mistakes and keep moving forward no matter what others say.
As a High School student we were required to take an IQ test, now I have never seen the results of those test, and no one has ever told me. My Father however, had told me many times that a test is just a test, do your best work hard and you can be anything. Well at the time I didn't think about it much, I didn't like school anyway and felt it was better to get actual experience rather than sit in a classroom. However, as I look back on my life, I can see that I was always several years behind everyone else. Most of the people I knew could read something once and retain most of it. Not me, I had to read stuff three or four times before I could retain it and then it had a limited storage time. Before every test, I had to review and re-read everything to get a good grade. I found I learned better by seeing and doing, I also found that I could read people pretty well and had the ability to verbally communicate. Too bad that ability did not extend to writing. I found that I had to work harder than alot of other people, and that it usually took me longer to learn and retain new things. All in all, I have made good and bad decisions, I have always taken responsibility for those decisions. I retired at the age of 55, I continue to work in the community, own a business with my wife, own my home and vehicles, and do not worry about money. We have an average home, and average cars, and average life.
To end this, I can say that since the age of 18, I have been on my own. I have lived my life my way and take responsibility for all my decisions good and bad. I have an obligation to my family, my community and my country. My firm belief is that people help people, not society or governments. There are individuals deserving of help and those that are not. While working there were two individuals that make this point clearer than I can. The first was not a good worker, he would be late, always looking for the easy way out, the minimum amount of acceptable work became his maximum. If he had sick time or vacation time on the books he would use it as fast as he got it. He became ill and was out of work for several months and needed others to give him their sick/vacation time so that he would continue to get paid. I did not, he had squandered his resources and failed to plan. Well he returned to work and had accumulated other peoples time that they had given him, with in a month he took two weeks vacation to use up the time others had given him. He had no need to change his behavior, he was saved from having to take responsibility for his decision so he continues to make the same mistakes. Now on the other hand, a worker that was always on time, a good hard worker, became ill. She had saved her time and after two years had finally ran out of vacation and sick time. I donated a month to her, she had planned and did everything she could, but in the end needed help.
The bottom line, we as a nation and a people need to take personal responsibility for our lives, with that responsibility comes control and ownership. If we as a people and a Nation decide that we are entittled to everything, we control nothing, we own nothing, and have no reason to provide for our selves,or to grow and move forward and make a better life for ouselves, our family or our nation.