This may be a fairly redundant concept for many of us, but looking around in the world, it quickly becomes obvious that many don't get it.
Now, if one were to listen only to men such as Paul Ryan, one might get the idea that the most important thing in life is hard work; to concentrate so hard on monetary gain that one becomes almost totally self-sufficient, with absolutely no need of any kind of assistance, especially any kind of social service or even Social Security. And for some, that's fine. If that's your Life's goal - to make the highest wage possible and squirrel away as much money as possible - I sincerely hope you life long enough to enjoy it.
But what so often seems to go hand-in-hand with this extreme work ethic is a condescending attitude toward those who make considerably less money, who work at jobs other than banker, lawyer, or manager; people who work every bit as hard as anyone else, but who don't have the high end skills to own a $1,000,000 home and a Lexus.
From whence comes this arrogant, smarmy attitude that people at the bottom of the economic pyramid don't deserve a living wage? How do you get to the point where you look down on anyone who receives any kind of assistance?
You know, it would be nice if we could all go to college and earn Masters degrees. We'd all make a six-figure salaries and vacation in Saint-Tropez. Except WHO is going to make your latte' at Starbucks? WHO is going to stock the shelves at Abercrombie or Hollister? WHO is going to rotate the tires on your Lexus? WHO is processing your arugula and truffles? WHO is picking the grapes for your $130/bottle Araujo cabernet?
Reality is that our modern, high-tech society is built upon the backs of people who work at McDonalds and Walmart, people who clean the toilets at 11 Wall Street, NY, and perform housekeeping at the Palazzo. These people deserve a wage that will pay the rent or mortgage, feed and clothe their families.
And then, there are all those other people who are out of work who are trying to find a decent job. And can't.
With all that in mind, I come to the real point of this blog. What's really important in life is that we reach out in some way to another human being. You don't have to be a carpenter working on a Habitat for Humanity home. It doesn't have to be disaster assistance. It can be something as simple as shoveling someone's sidewalk or mowing their lawn, or maybe just a kind gesture of listening over a cup of coffee. It's not a matter of size or scope, it's the gesture, the state of mind, the attitude that someone matters besides just ourselves or our loved ones. It's the act of doing something for someone else out of common kindness. It's being part of a larger humanity and acknowledging that we're all in this together.
And yes, there are those who don't pull their weight. There will be people who don't have a decent work ethic, or perhaps not as strong as yours. That's no justification for adopting an entirely supercilious attitude or slashing assistance to the less fortunate.