THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS
Most of the kids that came through our boxing program were from lower income if not downright poor families. Many of them could not afford the price of one dollar for a mouthpiece, but they would constantly show up ‘without’ the free mouthpiece that we provided. Being a nonprofit organization we scrounged for every dollar we had, so spending 20 to 30 dollars a month on mouthpieces wasn’t sustainable. We finally put a stop to that by charging a dollar or making them work it off by sweeping, cleaning the bathroom or other much needed chores around the gym. At first as you might expect, they balked at the idea, but their complaining did not sway our decision and we stood steadfast and made them pay one way or another. A very interesting thing happened after that, they stopped loosing them. I mean they showed up every day with their mouthpieces in hand and we never had to give them away again. The attitude shift that I saw when they earned as opposed to being given a mouthpiece was my first big lesson in human behavior.
About 25 years ago, a young friend of mine said to me “I hate this country!” I calmly asked him why? He stumbled for an answer but finally blurted out that America is racist. You know, the typical response given when they can’t formulate a specific grievance. I said didn’t your mom just have open-heart surgery? He replied ‘yes.’ I said, did she have that operation here or in Mexico? He replied “here.” I said did your family pay for that ? He said “no, I don’t think so.” I then said your father had three heart surgeries also didn’t he? He said “yes.” Who paid for those? He hung his head low and said “I don’t know.” I said “the American tax payer did.” In fact his mother collected welfare for the past twenty-five years raising the 5 children while the father lived at a different location as not to get the welfare check cut off, and he worked under the table for decades to hide his income and avoid paying taxes.
I said to him, “your family made a huge effort to come to this country to have a better life, you reaped the many benefits and you and tell me you hate the very country that has by my rough calculation given you well over a million dollars in aid.’ Yet you constantly wave the flag from the country you fled and tell me you hate the very country that has welcomed you and blessed you. He shook his head and said “I never thought about it like that.”
Unfortunately this is not an uncommon sentiment, because gratitude is a rather peculiar human emotion. Even in its purest form of expression, gratitude is by its very nature is humbling, and It’s a fine line between being humbled or being humiliated. Yes people can be grateful for a helping hand, but if it is ongoing, it will destroy a persons self-esteem and foster an underlying animosity towards the very people or country that is trying to help you.
Not only is it degrading on a personal level but it becomes infectious on a community and cultural level, and that’s the problem with the welfare system. It has devastated our poor communities and spurred the rebellious nature now on full display. It encouraged fatherless homes and robbed men of their natural desire to provide. The dignity of men and women cannot be handed out like candy at halloween, wether it’s a dollar mouthpiece or decades of financial support. These programs are of course measured in dollars, but the true cost is human dignity.
The no strings attached assistance programs may seem like a compassionate approach, but the consequences of blind compassion never seem to be analyzed or evaluated to measure the success of these programs.
The idea that someone should earn their way is not founded on a disregard for human suffering, it is has an eye forward to the building of a persons own self-worth. I’m sure that the welfare programs were initially designed with good intentions yes, but to expect deference from its recipients is willful ignorance on our part.
I’ve heard the comments before, “What makes you a expert?” Well true, I don’t have a degree in Behavioral Science but that doesn’t seem to be a criteria for writing these inept social programs or their focus would have more insight on the long term effects.
Just recently Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation to form a committee to study (advance) the idea of Reparations. To those of you who believe that this is an equitable response and a move forward in the so called fight against racism, I would say once again your empathy is greater than your ability to truly understand the problem. Your empathetic passion is admirable, but the truth is you’re putting a dirty bandage on an old wound, you may stop the bleeding but the infection will be much worse.
I won’t discuss the solutions that I feel would or could have made a real difference simply for the fact that I truly believe it is to late and that the appeasement philosophy will ultimately have its way. All I’m doing is warning you that if reparations are made, no matter how well intended they are, it will encourage rebellion not respect, it will be disheartening not uplifting and eventually ignite a level of civil unrest that will not so easily be assuaged