On hard work, circumstance and success

A lot of rhetoric has floated around lately about hard work, “bootstraps,” personal responsibility, and so on. Some of this is in regard to the idea of socialized or universal healthcare, some of it is about food stamps, unemployment and government handouts. Some of it is directed at trustifarians and hipsters living as “artists” on their parents’ dime. Or at the stoner who cashes in his employment checks and gets the new Xbox and spends his days smoking weed and playing Grand Theft Auto.

We rail at these people. They cheat. They’re lazy. They don’t deserve anyone’s help. They don’t even deserve what they have.

But what I would like to pose is the idea that none of us, not a single one, has earned our success. At least not entirely. Maybe we have parents who paid for our college, kept us on their health plans when we were looking for work. Maybe we paid our way through, but we had access to a computer in high school that made applying to schools that much easier. We had breakfast made for us before we took our SATs.

Maybe we are some serious hard-workers. Maybe we had a paper route since we were 11, had a job at 14, cooked our own breakfast and saved every penny we ever made. But we had a bike for that paper route, and we lived in a neighborhood where having a paper route wasn’t dangerous.

A lot of people got very mad when Obama said that “you didn’t build this,” and they had a point, because they did build what they have. But they had some raw materials to start.

We all don’t have the same raw materials. Put another way, we all don’t have a community of people to love and support and help us, financially or otherwise.

So what about the people who have far less materials? Do they deserve healthcare? I believe they do, and maybe some of you believe they don’t. But my guess is if your friend got cancer and was loaded down by medical bills, you’d pitch in.

But some people don’t have wealthy friends. Some people don’t have friends with much of a disposable income at all.

Life is not fair, and I know there’s no way to make it be, but I hope people recognize that because someone has less, it doesn’t mean that they deserve or earned less. And I hope that the lucky ones who have more (like me) can work together to give others at least a little something to build their own success with.

6 thoughts on “On hard work, circumstance and success

  1. Thank you for posting this. It is nice to hear from someone with a heart after constantly hearing from people with no sympathy for anyone else.

  2. I am currently on disability,but I worked for every penny of those payments. I started working at McDonalds when I was fifteen years old to have enough quarters to be able to qualify for my Social Security benefits. I worked 10 years at various federal government jobs to earn my disability pension from the Federal Government. So I take it very personally when people imply that I’m a lazy bum who doesn’t want to work because I receive those benefits. I’m sure there are lazy bums who cheat the system but don’t generalize that everyone does because we get sick.

      1. Thanks for sharing your story. You’ve absolutely earned those payments. That is what people don’t realize when they refer to them as “entitlements”. You are entitled because of hard work and paying taxes into the funds. Wishing you well, and thanks for reading.

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