03/23/13 — Hard to hear: The truths of success remain same as they always were

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Hard to hear: The truths of success remain same as they always were

It is not always easy to hear the truth.

Some people choose to spin it by saying that it is partisanship or by hurling insults calling critics "bigots" or "heartless."

That gets them out of the tremendous responsibility of actually dealing with the true causes of the concerns they talk about as part of their "platform" for change.

One of the newest additions to the "magical mystery tour of excuses" is the claim that the steps between the poor and the successful are getting harder and harder to climb, that the distance between the two groups is simply insurmountable.

That's the new justification for the class warfare that seems to dominate politics these days. It assumes that everyone who is successful got there magically because of where or to whom they were born. And it is crippling.

It is also the reason so many people will remain stuck on their rung as they look for some outside force to create their rise to the next "class."

Now, let's look at the facts.

There are steps to success -- and not all of them lead to fancy cars and multimillion-dollar homes.

Some people hit the genetic lottery -- they are born into homes of privilege. They are anomalies, toss them out.

Others work their way from nothing, taking the steps necessary to achieve their dreams, taking the risks and pushing themselves to build a better life for their family.

Their end result might not be a million dollars a year, but it might just be a happy, middle class life with the chance to own a home and to raise children in a safe environment.

But there are some rules -- and they are indisputable. Breaking them sets you back and makes that climb tougher and tougher, especially if you continue to make mistakes.

Here are a few:

• It is not the right decision to have a child out of wedlock, when you are 16 years old or if you cannot take care of him or her properly. This very rarely ends well -- either for the parent or the child. Behaving in this manner results in certain realities -- school is difficult, making ends meet is difficult and responsibilities and perspectives change. It is irresponsible to bring a child into the world this way -- and it is high time we stopped coddling those who make the choice, sometimes over and over again.

• Education is your ticket out or in. Doing well in school -- even if it simply means finishing high school -- is critical. Without a high school diploma, you are stuck in low-wage jobs with little hope of advancement or a chance at something better for yourself and your family. Graduation shows responsibility and discipline. Basic skills are critical to getting -- and keeping -- a job. Successful people do not stop learning -- whether it is for the career they have chosen or the basic skills they use every day.

• You can succeed without a fancy college degree, but not without hard work. Success comes to those who work for it. No matter whether you are a fast food worker or a young lawyer, you get the chance at advancement when you show that you understand the responsibility you have been given, and you live up to it. Blow off work, call in sick and head to the beach? Prepare for a life of not much and the same old, same old. No one guarantees you opportunity. You have to be ready and to have earned it when it comes along.

• Irresponsible parents create situations that result in children who perpetuate their bad decision-making. Welfare and Social Security Disability are ways of life in some families, and many young people do not aspire to rise any higher. It is time to hold people accountable when they are the reason their children are struggling. There should be penalties for being a bad parent -- and they should be real deterrents. Schools cannot raise children. It is high time that we forced parents to do that.

• Housing projects do not set the stage for a successful life. They are full of crime, bad influences and potential dangers. If you want to raise a child right, with the chance to make something of him or herself, get out. And as a society, we should work harder to reward those who are trying to do that by holding down jobs and seeking an education.

• A life of crime always comes home to roost. Career criminals are like professional athletes. There simply are not that many who can make a sustainable life out of this choice. Do the crime, you likely will end up dead or in jail. Date a criminal or ignore the signs that you are raising one, and you can prepare for a life that will be less than it could be.

The calls are harsh, sure. It is easier to believe that some outside force is in control or that not all people are offered the same chance to succeed.

This is still America -- and it is still the land of opportunity. What it is not -- or what it shouldn't be -- is the land of handouts.

You want it? You have got to do the steps to earn it. The rules are the same for everyone. It just depends on how hard you are willing to work to get it. And make no mistake, the vast majority of us had to work.

There are plenty of stories about people who have made it after coming from the worst circumstances. They all have one thing in common: They did the work and made the right choices.

It is as simple as that.

Published in Editorials on March 23, 2013 10:27 PM