The news was startling yesterday when the news came out from the Census Bureau regarding the number of people living below the poverty level.  What about those who live on the edge? What about the other numbers that show that our children aren’t reading as well as they used to, and showing it in their test scores? How do address these important issues in this economic time?

As a child of the television era, I remember seeing the opulent lives of the characters on television, but rarely ever seeing them do their homework, get a job, or even see how the families earned their money? It seemed to just “fall from the sky.”  I remember commenting to my family about character’s very understanding boss when the character would walk off in the middle of a shift, or just not show up, but still have a job waiting for them when they did decide to go back to work to pick up their paycheck.

But life is not like that. In reality, the only way to get ahead is to work hard.  We should reward that work ethic by valuing the dedication, not only in fair pay, but also by acknowledging the effort that goes into a project.  We honor the athlete who has reached the pinnacle of their sport, but we also need to pay attention to those who are working alongside them.  Our culture used to celebrate scholars, but now the closest thing we get is “Jeopardy,” and an occasional quiz bowl show.

If we are going to stop this nation’s slide into emotional malaise and depression, we need to recognize the efforts that are being made to climb out of it.  It’s not always the multi-millionaire, but it’s also about the small town doctor who’s helping guide healthy habits, the market manager who helps stretch the food money for a family in trouble, and many other little things.  That is the strength that built this nation historically, and it will be that “good American heart,” that does it again.

I don’t think the future looks like the 1980’s because as a person who came to adulthood in that time, it was a time of facades and dreams. It will be different, but hopefully stronger, as we stop trying to “game the system” and get back to the hard work of making a living.

Here at NCSC we have a youth category in our membership, and while parents can give the memberships to their children, we encourage the kids to raise their own money.  It shows us that they value what we have to offer, and it shows them the sense of accomplishment and belonging that comes from earning the right themselves. We have had many young people tell their parents they want to join, and their parents have offered to buy them the membership. The kids have responded with “No, I have to earn it myself. Can you help me do that?”  That’s what it’s all about, helping others make their way, not doing it for them.
If we want to  “Get a Grip,” maybe it’s not a handful of roots or soil on a desperate ledge, it’s a   between friends as they help each other out the chasm.