Sunday, July 4, 2010

Taking Responsibility!

     I am so tired of the "evil wealthy" rhetoric! It is obviously true that there are large wealth disparities in the US. Some people make millions, even billions, of dollars every year while others can't get by without government assistance. The perception is often that these wealthy people have become wealthy stepping on the backs of the poor, but is this really the case? My thought is that everyone needs to take responsibility for what IS.
     In the political arena, attention is often called the the huge salaries of CEO's of major corporations. Yes, they do make more money than the person who cleans their office. Yes, they do make more money than Joe the Plumber. Yes, they do make more money than 99% of the population! Is it fair? Maybe not, but how did it happen? Did they necessarily step on the little people to get ahead? Who knows for sure? The fact of the matter is, stockholders in the company, looking to make money on their investments, decided this person was worth their incredible salary to help them make more money. The CEO was able to convince those same stockholders that he/she would be able to take that company in a positive direction.
     Let's look at something similar but more acceptable to many Americans--athlete salaries. In the big leagues, most are paid hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars a year to play their game. They also make more money than the vast majority of Americans, but for some reason this is acceptable. The irony here is that many of them get caught in blatantly illegal activies and are criminally prosecuted for it. These people have all had to fight and claw their way to the top in such competive fields, some resort to the use of illegal steroids to do it. Still, becoming a top athlete is something many people aspire to. Do these athletes deserve their huge salaries? The fact of the matter is, these top athletes are what draw fans (and their money) so their salaries are justified. In other words, WE are the reason these athletes draw those incredible salaries.
     What is the difference between the CEO and the athlete? Nothing. Both are there to make money for the people they work for. They draw the ability to make money from who? Us! The bottom line is, they make money for their companies because of the value WE place on what they do. We may not be responsible for the exact dollar amount, but our attitudes and preferences definitely make us responsible for the end product.
     The next time you decide to complain about the disparity in American salaries, maybe you ought to look to those truly responsible. The responsibility lies with each one of us. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Bus Comes Every Day!

     In our often fast-paced world, it is easy to get lost in the madness. Work, school, meetings, and chores meld into one great big to-do list. There is not enough time in the day to accomplish all the things we are "supposed" to do. At the same time, the drudgery and monotony of life seems to spin out of control as we go through the routine of our lives. Just when I think this is the way my life was meant to be, I get a dose of reality as I look at my life through the eyes of the very young children I work with.
     At present, I am a preschool teacher with a class of two-year-olds. It is a high energy, sometimes stressful job that requires a lot of patience and stamina (not to mention a whole lot of stubbornness). One of the best things about the job, however, is the fact that I get to re-experience aspects of life that usually get taken for granted.
     For a two-year-old, the world is still a new, exciting place. It is a chance to observe, experience and learn. Experiments are common. What will happen when I smack my hand down in the milk I just spilled on the table? Where will the car land if I roll it off the table? You get the idea.
     One of the things that cracks me up is the coming of the school bus. When school is in session, the bus comes through the parking lot every day to drop off the elementary school children who need childcare while their parents are still working. Most afternoons, my little class is outside on the playground when this happens, and our playground is right next to the parking lot. Consequently, we see the bus pull through every day. You would think it would be old news after a while of seeing this day in and day out, but not to two-year-olds. Every day they hear the grind of the school bus' gears and make a mad dash for the fence as the bus pulls through, shouts of "Bus! Bus!", filling the air. Every day they wave and cheer for the bus and its driver. It's the same drudgery every day, but to a two-year-old it is a new, exciting experience every time.
     As I reflect on this, I come to one fateful conclusion. In our "wisdom" we have a tendency to take the wonders of our lives for granted. We cease to find joy and fulfillment in the little things because we have become bored by and caught up in the routine. The fact of the matter is, boredom is a choice. We can choose every day to see the world as a wonderous opportunity, or we can choose to be bored by the sameness of the routine. Which will you choose? After all, the bus comes every day!