Next we purchased some bookshelves off Craigslist and unpacked our many boxes of books. There were less surprises in those boxes, but it was nice to once again be able to see what we own and arrange them on our shelves, instead of keeping it all in storage.
We live in a world that thrives on media hype. Forget the details and facts. Forget context, background, and objectivity. Forget innocent until proven guilty. Instead, a video/picture/tweet of something offensive goes out and becomes viral, and suddenly the public at large decides it’s time to voice its outrage.
I’m going to try to write this post without sparking debate on any one specific current event. Is that possible? I’m not sure. I want to discuss not the right and wrong of individual incidents, but the overall phenomenon of viral anger.
What gets me about it is that people’s lives are affected (ranging from inconvenienced to completely ruined, depending on the level of the media-based outrage) because the public decides they should be – and in some cases, the public is wrong! Check out this article about a waitress who claimed she didn’t receive a tip because she’s gay. If you have the stomach for it, scroll down and read the comments, all negative and often profane, all passing sweeping judgments on conservatives in America. When the story broke, the waitress received donations of financial support from complete strangers, while those same strangers hurled venomous hatred towards the supposedly offending family.
I’m really bothered by social media based activism. When did we as a culture decide we needed fads to inspire us to give?
I’ve had this topic sitting in my mind for a while. I wanted to pick a good time to post it – not in the middle of any frenzy where it could be taken as a knee-jerk reaction to any one trend, but still close enough for those examples to be fresh in our minds. As we come off the hype of the ice bucket challenge, I think now is a good time.
I’ll begin by saying that while I did not participate in the challenge myself (no one nominated me, thank goodness), my husband did. He did it for a lot of the same reasons other people did – someone nominated him, and he figured it wasn’t a bad thing to do. It became the topic of a lot of real-life conversations in the days that followed, though – how he was going to handle the financial aspect of the challenge, who he’d give the money to, and the involuntary aspect of being “nominated to give”.
I have a 90 minute commute to my new job. I plan to listen to several audiobooks over the semester, but I didn’t have anything with me this week, so I just had the radio and my own thoughts to keep me entertained.
Yesterday I introduced the career research project to my students. I think it went well. It was mainly technical stuff – due dates and specific requirements and all that jazz, but I’m hoping for a more detailed discussion about what careers they’ll choose to research soon. It’s fun talking about that stuff with teenagers. It’s fun helping them think about the rest of their lives. I saw excitement in some students as we tossed a few ideas around. One of my most squirrelly boys was eager to get started, asking me after class if he could go ahead and start interviewing people in the field he wanted to pursue, even though that part of the project isn’t due for another two months. Another girl mentioned she was interested in two entirely different career fields, so she would have to choose which one she wanted to research.
As I drove home, I reflected on the various conversations of the day, proud to play a part in helping these teens begin the process of building their aspirations for the future. And then I started listening to the local “mix” station on the radio.
My husband and I recently began watching our way through the first two seasons of American Restoration through our Amazon Prime account. For those unfamiliar with the show, it follows the work of Rick Dale of Rick’s Restorations. He and his employees take old pieces of Americana that are rusted and falling apart, and they restore these artifacts to like-new condition. My husband likes the work and the craft of the show, seeing the process of restoring old, rusted, broken items into gorgeous pieces that look brand new. The attention to detail, the mastery, and skill in their work is pretty impressive. However, I find myself just as engaged with watching the relationship between the father and the son on the show.
When I went to college, people understood my study habits, but many of my new friends couldn’t relate to my budgeting habits. I was often amused by a certain friend’s reaction when I said I didn’t want to buy something because I didn’t want to spend the money. “Why not?!” he’d ask, slightly incredulous. “I know you can afford it!” Yeah, I had money in my checking account, but only because I didn’t constantly spend it on needless things! I wasn’t a miser or a Scrooge. I’d go out bowling with friends and to the occasional movie, but I was careful and rarely made frivolous purchases. Later I watched that same friend bury himself in credit card debt far too early in life, and I’m so thankful for the responsibility my parents taught me in my childhood.
“Responsibility is the acceptance of oneself as the cause of one’s current situation, and it is the willingness to cope with that situation.”
Mr. Fluegel, my quirky 9th grade science teacher, required his students to recite that definition of responsibility every day at the beginning of class. He had us write it on tests and quizzes for credit, and for all his personable, smiling attitude, he adamantly insisted that we live by it in his class. I can still hear the chant of the class speaking in unison ringing in my ears, all these years later.
As memorable as Mr. Fluegel’s lessons were, though, they were only a reinforcement of the sense of responsibility my parents had been teaching me for years. I see so many people now struggling with the consequences of poor financial habits and impaired work ethics, and I’m so thankful for the habits my parents built in me at an early age. I’ll speak more to the financial side of things in a later post. This is the story of how I learned to work hard.