Anybody can have a quality life in America if they just apply themselves!
Seriously? Are you living in a bubble? A nice, warm, privileged bubble? If so, I hate to wake you up so abruptly, but this isn’t true. At all.
Yes, there are a number of people who have risen up from the shackles of poverty without much in the way of support and created a fulfilling life, if not a name, for themselves. These people are the exception, not the rule, and should be praised, but not used as a measuring stick to compare the whole of the people to.
It’s a known fact that you won’t get anywhere in life if you don’t put some effort in (wait, hasn’t this rule been broken publicly? Got a copy of Us Weekly laying around?) but for many people, no amount of effort can get them a shining, success-story outcome. Survival is enough of a struggle.
Allow me to paint a picture.. here are two different people. Both are extremely intelligent and motivated, both have hopes and dreams and ambitions.
Ted is the CEO of Edible Playthings, a company that manufactures and distributes novelty candy. He was born to an upper-middle class family in the San Francisco Peninsula and was raised with unconditional love and support. His family encouraged him in all his pursuits, and could afford to send him to a great university where he learned how to run a business. While in school, he met a fellow student who figured out how to create a candy solution that you could blow into bubbles. Edible candy bubbles. The idea was lucrative, but Ted believed in it so much that he convinced his ailing father to invest in materials and other start-up costs. Ted paid off his peer for rights to market the candy bubbles. It was a risky move, but his intuition paid off and now Ted’s Edible Playthings line of functional and delicious candy bubbles, crayons and board games are sold in major chain retailers nationwide. Ted and his wife Terri live in a modest five-bedroom home in Marin County, where their children enjoy safety, hobbies, and an excellent education.
Charlie is in rehab. He was born to a single immigrant mother in the South Bay Area region of California. He was an exceptionally bright child, always curious and inquisitive. His mother worked three jobs just to keep a roof over their head. His mother loved Charlie, but was unable to be there for him because she couldn’t afford to take time off of any of her jobs. Charlie spent a lot of time with his alcoholic aunt, who was annoyed with his questions and constantly told him to play outside. While outside, he gained a fondness for nature. He spent hours examining every variety of leaf, tree, and flower he could find. When he started school, he got picked on for his thrift store clothes and brown bag lunch, so he spent hours in the library, learning more about his beloved flora and dreaming of one day going to school to study plant life. Perhaps he would discover a new species of strawberry. His mother continued working tirelessly to support Charlie and herself until, when he was 16, years of stress and hard work caught up to her and she fell very ill. Charlie dropped out of school to help his mother financially. He worked as a cashier at a liquor store in the mornings, and inventory at PallMart at night. He began drinking to deal with the pain of watching his mother die. When she inevitably passed, he could not stop drinking. He lost his job at PallMart, thinking that he could get away with drinking behind the scenes, and struggled to find a replacement job. He was months behind on rent for his small studio apartment and getting desperate, so he made a rash decision and “borrowed” some money from the register. Caught robbing the liquor store he worked at, how pathetic. By some stroke of luck, the judge at his trial allowed him to go to rehab instead of doing time. He has no idea how he’ll pay for his fees, but is trying not to think about that right now. One day at a time, right? He’s forgotten all about his dream.
Ask yourself: What would happen if Charlie were born to Ted’s family, and Ted was placed in Charlie’s situation?