When I was a kid, I would ride my bike everywhere. I didn’t wear any headgear and more then once my pant-leg got caught between the chain and sprocket, creating some scrapes and bruises. I played touch football without a helmet and have had the wind knocked out of me more then once. I have been hit in the face with a baseball requiring three clamps to close the wound. I played on a few junior league baseball teams and we probably lost as many games as we won. But I survived.
My folks didn’t have health or life insurance and that was not unusual. I cleaned my dentists offices and scrubbed and waxed his floors every Saturday afternoon. I would get half the money and the other half went to pay for my dental work. My dad didn’t have a pension and when he had to quit work, he fell short of having made enough contributions to be eligible for Social Security. During the depression, he worked for the WPA and on an assembly line building tanks for the war effort. My mom went to work and us kids chipped in from odd jobs. We didn’t have a telephone or a car or a credit card. If they needed something, they put a little aside until they could pay for it or they set up a lay away account. But we survived
There was no money for college unless, like my brother, you earned a scholarship. I entered the military at seventeen to learn a skill and to earn enough money to send some home each month. Upon my discharge, I applied for several jobs where my dad’s old adage of “shined shoes and neatly combed hair are better then all the fine clothes you can wear” was pretty much my only asset, save a willingness to do whatever the job entailed. I married and together, we built a life while I built a career. We paid our bills and if we had to ask a relative for a loan, we made sure we paid it back. When my car broke down, I got up earlier and thumbed to work until I could afford to have it fixed. We counted our money before we went shopping and while we were shopping to make sure that we had enough. But we survived.
That was then, and you know what? I was only doing the same things that everyone else was doing. It was the norm. No more, no less. That was the way life was lived back then. Today, things are different. Kids have to wear protective gear to ride their bike. Gym class, if offered, has become more of a spectator sport because of fear of injury from physical contact, which could result in a lawsuit. Organized sports have fewer winners and losers since everyone gets a trophy, just for playing.
Health insurance has become a right, as has government support. Entitlements seem to have replaced employment and credit cards are the new cash. It is expected that everyone will go to college, often with a skill set that would not have allowed you to graduate from high school years ago. Communication has taken a nose dive and everyone is offended by everyone else. If you don’t like something, just sue. Integrity, it seems, is just a word, spoken more often then practiced. Our will and sadly our ability to take responsibility for ourselves, has waned.
Don’t get me wrong. I think I am as compassionate as the next guy. I give a share of money to charities. I support local initiatives to address identified needs. I volunteer. I help people that need help if I can. I think that is what I should do. But what I don’t understand is, when did I stop being responsible for me and start being responsible for you, the you I am talking about being the people that Can help themselves, but won’t. When did it become up to me to pay more taxes to support those who willfully avoid contributing anything? Who signed me up to pay for the fraud and corruption that permeates our programs and our government? When did we lose our pride and forfeit our values? When did we decide to throw in the towel? What The Hell Happened?