My father died when I was five years old. My mother raised five of us, and during this Thanksgiving season I will always be grateful for her sacrifices. Our government supported my family with monthly veterans’ checks. I was pulled out of a boring English class to go to college free as a track athlete. I entered the work force with a shock. No one provided me with employment as they had provided me food, shelter, and education to this point. I secured a job at a sheltered workshop for 3 ½ years placing the mentally handicapped into competitive employment. I made $8,000 to start and paid no income taxes. This job helped me identify my skills of persuasion, as well as people skills, and an empathetic attitude. It also made me a legitimate member of the 47%. Today, I am a conservative, and do not readily identify with this group. I am empathetic, however.
You see there is an entitlement type of thinking that makes me squirm. Even though I am the recipient of so many handouts over my life, I reject the idea that I will remain dependant on freebees. You see my mom took the entitlements, but she never stopped working. She leveraged her entitlements to create opportunities for her children. I miss her, and think of her often. In the spirit of Thanksgiving I am grateful and want to contribute to this great country that gave me so much opportunity. It is not the handouts that create an entitlement culture. It is the lack of desire for a better lifestyle. It is the selfishness of capitalism that drives most of us to have a better life. When I travel to other countries like Panama and China and they find out that I am from the US it is not democracy that I sense they are envious of. It is not freedom that they seem to long for. I sense that they are more interested in the things that I have, and the opportunities available for both my self and my family. Don’t get me wrong. I think they want the right to express them selves without being harmed. I think they also want what Abraham Lincoln called conceived liberty and dedication to equality. I just think that these lofty ideals are not where people live.
I think that most people are much like my wife. She lives in the here and now and not the lofty ideals of democrats or republicans. She keeps me grounded when I find myself in an idealistic rant. My mother, my wife, and my foreign friends surround me with the reality of the here and now. Human nature becomes industrious when we sacrifice and work to better ourselves. When we get something for free that we don’t have to work for, then we do not value it. We expect more, and become ungrateful for the things we have. The cure for ingratitude is sacrifice. When we must work for something we learn to value it. So we the members of the 47% who have had to sacrifice and struggle reject the idealism of the extreme right wing. Just because someone has given us a hand up does not mean that we are destined to be entitled. We vow to take delight in any help we receive. We will be grateful for opportunities over expectations. When we find ourselves in desperate circumstances we will resist despair. On this Thanksgiving we will identify small reasons to take courage. On this Thanksgiving we proclaim a new breed of 47 percent-ers who will represent those who live in the stress and struggle of the here and now with a can do attitude that rises above our circumstances.