I saw this colorful, professionally done bumper sticker on a car driven by what looked like a mid-20s male. Young, Poor and Angry, screamed the sticker, with Angry in italics.
Why? What was he angry about? Certainly not about being young. So it must be about the poor part. Let’s think this through together. Young is not a permanent condition, and overall, it’s a good thing. Angry is a moment-to-moment choice. No matter what the stimulus is, no matter how compelling or outrageous the stimulus may be, before we react there is choice. Between stimulus and response there is always choice.
And poor is also a choice. Really, Will, some people choose to be poor? Really? Unlike our ability to choose how to respond to stimuli moment-to-moment, choosing to be–or not to be–poor is a choice, just one that we need to act on over a longer time period. The center/left Brookings Institute lists three simple steps, which if followed will allow 75% of the people on this path to be in the middle class. (Which, BTW, especially in the US is pretty good.) Only 2% of people who do these things will be poor. That would make room for different bumper stickers.
What are these steps?
- Graduate High School
- Have a full-time job
- Don’t have kids until you are married.
How hard is that? And the reward is substantial.
If the young man in the car, and millions of other like him, did these three simple things, he would benefit greatly.
So why doesn’t he? Is it as simple as being angry may seem easier than working full-time? Perhaps. My guess is that he–and the millions of others–don’t know this truth as captured by Brookings. And if they heard it somewhere, they did not believe it.
Of all of the building blocks that comprise the Results With Reason personal, financial and political philosophy, the greatest are these:
- Take and teach Personal Responsibility in all things and
- Answer the question, “Am I my Brother’s Keeper?” with a firm “Yes.”
Applying the philosophy here, yes, the young gent should take personal responsibility for his life. Absolutely. And if he doesn’t, what is our responsibility to our Brother? Or our Sister in a different example?
Our responsibility to our Brothers and Sisters is not dictated by laws, nor is it “handled” by government programs. We need to act ourselves. Find ways to encourage, teach, love and, well, help, others. When we find ways to do things like show this young man how simple the path to success is, imagine the doors we will open for him. And simple does not at all mean easy. These three things need to be done consistently over time. Perhaps he will need someone to walk with him parts of the way.
Let’s talk about how best to do that. Respond in my Results With Reason blog or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I’m easy to find on iTunes, Google Play and the usual Bat Channels, including Twitter and Facebook.
Will Luden, writing from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.