This I Believe

Ronnie - Micanopy, Florida
Entered on March 19, 2007

I have always believed that the person one has become is directly related to the nurturing experienced within the family unit as well as without. I also believe that we all are unique individuals as evident by our fingerprints, temperament, and with each a sense of reality to name a few. The quality of our maturation is directly correlated to the environment we experienced in our early developing years. The end result reflects itself with the success or decline of elements within our society; some manage to override their negative environment, most do not.

Using my own experience as an example: My earliest memory of my youth are that we were a family of nine, destitute with an everyday struggle to survive. I remember the family receiving the makings of a thanksgiving dinner by a local charity. My mother had to call my uncle to kill and gut the turkey in our cellar before she could cook it.

I recall my mother was always there for me and my siblings. My farther was a truck driver and rarely home, when he was not on the road he was in a bar room drowning his woes. We were taken from our parents at an early age and placed in foster homes as wards of the state. Some of our foster parents were genuinely interested in our well being while others had ulterior motives.

The consequence of our experience before and after foster care varies. My older sister married a responsible man and successfully raised five children. My older brother had many problems raising his own family of five children; shortly before his death he made the statement “I don’t know how to be a father.” As an young adult, I assumed I was destined to a mediocre existence, at best. The day that changed my reality was when I had to go to college under the GI bill in order to insure some sort of income for our future; we were enduring a severe recession and employment was scarce. My remaining four siblings have had their share of success and failings.

In retrospect I feel like I could have easily fallen over the other side of the precipice of life and be a career criminal or a lifeless vagrant panhandling to drown myself in my sorrows. It troubles me to hear about our troubled youth who are not only the subject of an abject beginning but must also endure a society that has given up on them. Our justice system is subject to the fear, ignorance, and the abuse of power by its enforcement officers as well as the public at large. The lowest class of our citizens are looked on as miscreants, not worthy of life.

I believe every capable citizen bears some responsibility to its community well being. Trying a child as an adult, executing a mentally challenged prisoner, or denying a street person a civil greeting when passing are not responsible behavior. When I was in grade school I was subject to harassment seemingly without end. When I reached my limit, I stood up in the middle of a class session and declared to my tormentor behind me that “one of us had to die.” What if I had access to a deadly weapon, where would I be today? The old adage of we deserve the government we voted in also applies to society when we choose to ignore the down trodden to advance our own interests.