Something happened this week, and while it may have seemed innocuous at the time, the more I have thought about it, the more it has aggravated me. Though I am three days removed from the situation, I have not been able to stop thinking about it, and what it “really means” for us, as a society. People have become WAY too accustomed to accepting hand-outs, and to make it even worse, even more comfortable just casually asking for them, as if they are “owed” to them. I don’t know exactly when/where/how it started, but it really is so maddening. In this particular case, a student (whom I do not even know) asked me for money to pay for her to go on a field trip. In her words, it was “just $150.” I was really so shocked that this was happening that I think I may have stammered while giving her an economics lesson. I told her that $150 was, in fact, not just a small amount of money. That fact aside, it was not my responsibility to pay for her, as I have current and former students’ families whom I have helped throughout the year (because I know that they really need it). Now, while I have never seen her family’s bank account, I do know that she does have a cell phone, and is often wearing the newest, and very expensive sneakers soon after they come out. Looking at that, it says to me that her family is not one of those who is truly struggling, otherwise, she wouldn’t have those “extras.” What it also says to me is that she feels perfectly comfortable asking someone else (and someone virtually unknown to her, at that) to give her something for free, though she hasn’t earned it.
I was raised to know the value of hard work, demonstrated by the examples of my parents. Though there were some tough financial times, they never once looked to someone else to “fix it” for them, because they “deserved it.” Do you know what they did? They worked harder. My dad took on a second job so that my mom could stay home with my brother and I. Did they expect anyone else to take care of them? No, they did not. Would they ever, in a million years, have asked me to go out and “do their bidding” for them (as in the situation that I was referring to at the beginning of this post)? No, they would not. They would have gone without things that they needed or wanted, just to make sure that my brother and I had what we needed. One of the most important values they imparted to my brother and I was to have strong character. Unfortunately, I see that value in fewer and fewer people these days, and I really think that it spells trouble for our society. Nothing in life is free, nor should someone expect it to be. Everything in life that is worth having is worth working hard for. I, for one, am glad that I learned that lesson early on, and I can only hope that those who don’t already know that will learn it before it’s too late.