Monday, September 23, 2013

There but for the Grace of God...

The first 15 years or so of my adult life were pretty much dependent on programs I'm hearing called government handouts.  My first few years of college were at a State University.  My tuition was paid through state grants and I earned money with work study programs.  After serving in the Air Force, I went back to college using the Montgomery bill where the government matched with $2 every dollar I had paid in.  I went back to a State University and was again eligible for state grants and work study.
My first jobs were funded under Human Service Development grants and Job Training grants.  Along the way I had much help and support from family and sometimes needed food stamps to eat.  Years I went without health insurance and by the grace of God did not need it.
I didn't get the dream job right out of college.  I struggled and clawed my way and sometimes made bad decisions.  By luck, I got the job I have now with good benefits and decent pay.  Many of the people I graduated with and many whom I taught (under the Job Training program) have not been so lucky.
I'm not smug enough to think others did not have my same experience because I was smarter or worked harder.  And I'm not foolish enough to think that what is happening to other professional people in their mid 50's will not happen to me.  I'll be very lucky to retire from the job I now have.
I wonder if I loose my job through no fault of my own and I cannot afford health insurance as I may struggle to find another job, will I be called a slouch - a taker - an under achiever?
For about a decade of my early career, by today's conservative standards, that is what I would be called.  I probably wouldn't even have a job because the programs that employed me then have been slashed.  And if I wanted an education, I would need to take on student loans that would follow me for years.  The same years I was lucky to find jobs paying little more than minimum wage.
I just don't understand the whole "self made" mentality.  And I don't think it's because I've been a big taker all my life.  Maybe I'm just more aware of life's roadblocks and how difficult they can be to overcome.  I tend to think, "there but for the grace of God", instead of "Oh God, there's another one."

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