GRATITUDE FOR HARD TIMES, By Louise Annarino,August 6, 2012

6 Aug

GRATITUDE FOR THE HARD TIMES, By Louise Annarino, August 6, 2012

 

The day I left home for college in 1967 my dad handed me $20. I tried not to accept it, knowing my dad’s pay was only $50 per week and it meant a huge sacrifice. But he insisted saying, “Mommy and I don’t know when we will be able to give you any money again, so take it.” When I got to campus I found an on-campus job through government sponsored work-study program with the help of campus counselors. I also found an intermittent off-campus job stuffing envelopes at Hillel House, having gotten to know the rabbi while taking his free seminar on Martin Buber. I was the first to show up the day he was accepting applications, and he asked me to wait until Jewish students had registered, promising a spot to my Catholic self should he have a remaining opening.At the end of registration 3 hours later I, and a friend who was is the daughter of a Methodist minister, were his only students. I learned more from him than any other professor that first year on campus, and he called me whenever he needed extra office help. The watchful African-American woman who ran Lincoln Tower’s snack bar on Sunday nights, the only meal not included in our meal plan, asked me one Sunday night, “Why do you never order anything when you come through the line with your friends?”. I explained I was a scholarship student and could not afford Sunday night dinner but liked to sit and chat with my friends before we got back to our studies. She immediately told me “Stand right there!” and placed a cheeseburger, fries and a salad on a tray and told me to come through her line every Sunday and she would make sure I had something to eat. I did and she did. It was great not to be hungry.

These acts of generosity put me through college. Yes,I worked hard and constantly. I worked at least 2 jobs over Christmas and Spring breaks.I took summer classes and worked full-time. I soon became an RA (resident advisor) to earn free room and board, and kept a part-time job to cover books and incidentals. But that is not the issue. Everyone works hard in some way at some time; those of us from impoverished backgrounds in every way, all of the time. The issue is that I could not have obtained a bachelor, master and law degrees without the help of others every step of the way. I did not do it alone. No one does anything alone. The thankfulness I feel for those who helped is a constant source of faith and hope for me. Gratitude has made life bearable during the hard times. I can never pay forward so much as I have been given. There is not enough time left in my single life to repay the kindness of so many lives.

When I hear President Obama attacked in political ads featuring business owners chiding him for demeaning their accomplishment by suggesting they did not “make it” on their own; and hear Mitt Romney at the close continue the misrepresentation of the president’s words by affirming, “I am Mitt Romney and I approve this message” I cringe. What arrogance and bravado is needed to so clearly lie about the president who has done everything possible to help business,especially those very small-business owners appearing in such ads. How ironic that Mitt Romney and members of his party who have repeatedly blocked the pro-business agenda of president Obama, and Mitt Romney who off-shores workers’ jobs and his profits after gutting American companies  thinks he has the moral authority to approve any message on American job and business creation. He made his billions destroying jobs and small businesses.The Paul Ryan budget he backs would eliminate  help for small businesses.

I digress. Again, this is not the point. The point is no businessman created any business on his own. Businesses are not only built and thrive because of infrastructure and tax policies supported by tax dollars. They are built by workers who labor for the business owner day after day, week after week; workers who are educated in our elementary and secondary schools, and in  our universities and technical programs; workers who are trained in union apprenticeship and journeymen programs; workers who earn minimum wage or union wage while the owner pays himself a salary 10 times (or more)the highest worker’s wage and takes a percentage of the profits. Worker productivity also builds his business. He does nothing alone, but take the credit.

Instead of a faith and hope filled life of gratitude such business owners appear to lead bitter and fearful lives. I started out being disgusted with them. Now, I feel only pity for them. However, such men cannot be elected to lead this country forward. They are not to be trusted with the fruits of our labor. They do not understand it. They do not appreciate it. They do not honor it. They would squander it and steal it to fill the empty void in their own lives.

It is men like President Barack Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden, and  Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown who remind us of our value, who support our dreams, who invest in our futures. it is they who will lead this country through hard times, as so many helped me through mine.

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