The secret: Responsibility creates success. Some would have you believe otherwise.
It is difficult these days to get people to understand that sometimes the age-old, time-tested advice is really the best.
They think there is a better way -- that there is a secret shortcut that is just waiting to be discovered or some application or computer program that can shorten the distance from Point A to Point B.
So they listen to the rhetoric and parrot the comments of those who profess another way -- who claim discrimination and malice where there is none and who demonize those who tout personal responsibility over government dependency.
They hear how others want to steal their chance, to stop their advance in the world -- and they believe it.
They listen to the comparisons to the battles of those who fought for civil rights, while the comparison-makers claim those same people would rise and fight for a status quo where dependence is enough and redistribution is the route to success, the very essence of discrimination -- the theory that a race or a socioeconomic class cannot succeed without the assistance or permission of another.
They demean the hard work of anyone who ever struggled over a school book, who broke a family chain of poverty or who was the first person to graduate from high school or college.
They lessen the courage and selflessness of a parent who works hard at a menial job so that his or her daughter or son can get first a high school diploma and then, later, a college degree -- and who is strong enough to stay on that child until he or she turns those tassels.
They dishonor those whose paths might not be academic, but whose hard work and determination have made them business owners.
And they disrespect the thousands of children who walk by drug dealers, gang bangers and other less-than-savory influences and bravely make their way to new lives -- even, sometimes, without the support of a family or even a stable home.
They would prefer it another way -- a blame game where barriers are created by others and cannot be overcome, where choices and decisions do not determine a person's path.
They can talk. They can preach.
But they can't change the truth.
The advice is the same as it was when their great-grandfathers delivered it to their grandfathers.
There is no secret to success other than doing the work.
That work might be finishing school, staying away from drugs or alcohol, choosing a career path and doing the preparation necessary to succeed.
It might be to ignore the bad influences and the naysayers to pursue a dream -- even when others say it is not possible.
It might be struggling through geometry, English or science because a high school diploma and a chance at college, a job or a future is that important.
It might simply be getting on that bus or punching that clock every day because you have pride in yourself and value the message of hard work and responsibility you are modeling for your children.
And as the protests swirl and the rhetoric rages over plans to change some of the ways the state and the nation handle those who need help -- and what should be expected from them in return -- the message keeps getting changed and those with courage and resolve are ignored.
It is not about what you hand someone. That means nothing.
It is about the path you offer them forward and the commitment they offer in return.
So it is time to look harder for those who want help and who are struggling to live a life of honor and responsibility, to reward those who are working so hard to start a new chapter.
They should be our focus.
And it is time to look closer at those who are not living up to their responsibility, who work the system, who make the bad choices over and over again, sometimes at the expense of their children, and to hold them to a higher standard and a realization that nothing in this life comes for free.
That is how you turn a country around.
All we have to decide now is if there are enough people left who are willing to stand up and say it.
Published in Editorials on June 1, 2013 11:34 PM