Looking at my family today might make you think that I was privileged. Nothing could be further from the truth. My mother brought me to this country without money or possessions. In spite of that, she got a master’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. She raised me and my sister and sent both of us to college. Today, she and I are living comfortable lives thanks to the education we received and the jobs we were able to get as a result of hard work. We essentially lived out the American dream.
Our success was due to living poor, studying hard and working even harder. We did not believe in taking hand outs. You might be wondering, “why not?” The story below illustrates my point.
After much planning and anticipation, Meena and her children made their way to America and settled in the Midwest. Moving from a distant country was not easy and once in the Midwest, life wasn't easy either. Meena and her children moved in to their friend’s very small one bedroom apartment. Four people lived in a space designed for one or two people. To make matters worse, the apartment was in a crime-ridden part of town. Meena worked at a minimum wage job while she attended the local university. Needless to say, times were tough financially.
Uma's mom stopped what she was doing and told Uma to sit down. She said, "I know about food stamps and other free items that are available for us."
"What?" Uma questioned in disbelief. "You knew that we could have delicious free food and you continued to feed me rice and beans all this time?"
Uma’s mom replied, “Don’t you like the food I give you to eat every day?"
"No! I don't want to eat the same thing every day! I would rather eat like my friends!”
The money to pay for all this FREE stuff comes from people and businesses who are earning money by doing or making something. Do you think it is fair that people who are working are responsible for providing Ding-Dongs and potato chips to those who aren't working or who are working but can’t afford indulgences like that? By the way, those are indulgences, not necessities.”
They feel entitled to choices like Ding Dongs or potato chips instead of rice and beans for dinner. When these choices are available to them, the people no longer feel the pain of eating rice every day. Without pain there is no reason for change. Something that is designed to help is actually backfiring for many people and the government is making prisoners out of the poor. Don't get me wrong, the programs that are free are wonderful if they are used in times of trouble, for a temporary solution but NOT a way of life.
So thirteen-year-old Uma asked her mom, "What can I do to get better food and candy?”
“Now that is right question. What can you DO?” They stayed at the table, brainstorming.
Uma was on the right track. My mom was happy because Uma wanted to DO something to change her OWN situation rather than looking to others to change things FOR her.
The solution is not in government, it is inside us. It is our desire to better ourselves and suffer in the meantime that will result in a far-reaching, long-lasting outcome.
The key to success is realizing that you can change your situation rather than being the victim and waiting for someone else to fix it.