A Labor Day Lesson

This column originally appeared at US Daily Review.

On this Labor Day past, I was driving through a neighborhood and the road was right along side a local high school’s track and soccer field.  I drove by around 1pm, and I had heard previously that the high was going to be 95 degrees.

Obviously, for Labor Day, school was not in session.  Yet, at 1pm, there were some clusters of individuals working out on the track and on the soccer field.  At a brief glance driving by, none of this looked coordinated, this looked like kids out trying to work on something specific, looking to improve their skills or their game.

As the sun beamed down on this area, and as I kept driving and left the track and field in the distance, I thought to myself what a great example those kids are to the people in our nation, and the people overseas, who expect something for nothing.  Recently, in the wake of the London riots, there have been stories about the appalling lack of accountability they see over in Great Britain. One doesn’t need to look much further than this recent story that points out that 370,000 households had never had any paid work in the 16 years that the statistics have been kept.  Furthermore, nearly one in 50 kids lives in a home where a parent has never worked.  Without my being judgmental, I think we can all see a problem here.  And then we, and Londoners, wonder why the riots happened and why these kids looted and committed other crimes?

But I digress.  Our current President created a surreal, if not bizarre, atmosphere in America when he literally promised people in 2007 and 2008 that they would get something for nothing, if they put him in the White House.  I won’t get into calling this form of governing one name or another.  I will get into identifying this as a problem and signifying what that problem means.

What were these kids promised by being out in the hot sun, running laps on the track by themselves, or kicking a line of soccer balls trying to hit the same upper right hand corner of the goal each time?  If the President had been there, he would have told them to stay on the couch, someone else will be running laps or scoring goals, and we’ll make sure we take their laps and those goals and share them with you, so you don’t need to be out here doing all this extra work.

It is easy to look like you are working hard when others are around to see, but there is also that saying about courage being what you do when no one else it watching. No one was watching these kids working, except for the passersby. These kids, whether driven by work ethic, by pride, by their peers or by their families, they were working extra to make them and their teams better.

There’s a lesson in here for all of us.  Each one of us makes the whole of America better.  You don’t have to go run laps in the heat, you can volunteer in a church, help an elderly neighbor with yard work or painting part of their home that might be in disrepair.  You can coach some kids in a sport and lead by example. Many kids do not live in two parent households, volunteering as a coach is a way to help kids like this who might need just one more adult in their life asking “how was school today” or “what kind of homework will you be working on tonight”.  This adds up to accountability.

I was heartened to see these kids out there working. It reminds me that there is a spirit in America, a spirit that says if I work hard enough, I will choose my own path, it won’t be chose for me.  Holidays can have interesting meanings and interesting takeaways. I never expected what I saw or learned on this Labor Day.

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