This I Believe

Ronnie - Micanopy, Florida
Entered on September 7, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I have always wondered about our dynamic exhibitions of social benevolence versus discontent. What steers the people of communities, states, and nations toward mutual respect and tolerance, or disdain, and vengeance toward their neighbors? I believe the root lies in our childhood learned behavioral traits, as in mutual respect, ‘we’re all in it together’ opposed to ‘alone in the world’ as expressed in fear, ignorance, and the abuse of power. I choose to believe we all are but a grain of sand in the sea of life; we all have a part in the quality of our environment.

I believe that every child begins life by mimicking role models relative to its physical and emotional environment. Consider an atmosphere of confidence, patience, and a tempered disposition by care takers are demonstrations of love and respect. While the opposite atmosphere of deprivation and anxiety leave little room to express positive emotions when in the midst of a crisis for survival. It’s common knowledge that children have a tendency to assume they are the one who is at fault. Of course, we all know the silence and indifference of society at large are the culprits.

I was the third of seven children of an impoverished family. We became wards of the state, with sibling separation we lost the only continuity we had. In retrospect, I believe my parents were victims of the vicious cycle, ‘living what they learned in their youth’. As a married adult with twin sons, I had to enroll for college courses under the GI bill to help sustain our family during the mid 70’s recession, no jobs available. My wife worked for the state earning $136/week. Prior to attending college I had assumed my fate in life was to be a laborer. The college experience was an awakening, with so many options available I had a great deal of trouble deciding on a career. With a different beginning, I could have already been an accomplished professional.

It takes a village for a child to grow and prosper, as stated many times, in many ways, but apparently the ideal is having trouble catching on. Why? I recall my early experience of growing up where neighbors looked out for one another; everyone paid attention to the activities and behavior of their own along with the neighbors’ children. Parents were less concerned with a neighbor minding their own business, giving each other mutual support. Parents were more interested in fair play and comradery than in winning the game of life.

Children of the deprived common people are considered expendable by neighbors and government as a reality of today. Consider the results of a harsh growth environment: We have the largest prison population in the world. We support the death penalty where most nations do not. Most of the fatalities in the battlefield are the lower half of the economic ladder. The quality of our health care is based on the patients ability to pay, as demonstrated by the care givers and pharmaceuticals, making every effort to maximize their income. Has the Hippocratic Oath taken on a new definition? We are what we live, do we really want to sustain our society as is?