Saturday, May 19, 2007

Teach Your Children Not So Well

This was my first article published by last year. Your comments are appreciated.

Hello. Let me introduce myself. I am Szandor Blestman. I am a fort-ysix year old white male living in the far west suburbs of Chicago. I have a wife, three kids and two step kids. Normally, I don't differentiate between my biological children and my step children. I've been with my wife for seventeen years now and my step kids have very little contact with their biological father (by his choice, not theirs), so for all intents and purposes I raised those kids (with much help from their mother) as my own. Ok, I'm dwelling. Time to move on.
I was born in a small town in north central Illinois, in a farming community. We moved while I was still an infant to a near west suburb of Chicago where I grew up. My father was a high school English teacher who drove a school bus, worked as a coach and did whatever the school would let him do to make additional income. My mother was a housewife who later in life worked very hard to improve her standing and ended up becoming a certified financial planner with her own business. I was the sixth of eight children. I tell you all this because I believe it's important to know where a person is coming from and what his background is when assessing the validity of his opinion. Since this is my first attempt at such a piece, I felt it was important for you, the reader, to know some basic information about me.
I had a good childhood. Yes, there were some rough spots, but for the most part I was happy. I had a wonderful loving, caring family. My parents taught me to be hard working and honest. They taught me that if I was hard working and honest I would be successful in life. Now that I have children of my own I try to teach them the same things. I try to provide for them a loving and caring home. I try to teach them to be hard working and honest. I try to teach them that if they are hard working and honest they will be successful.
Lately, I wonder if I'm wrong, at least about the honesty part.
I look around the world today, I look at the successful people, and I notice that many of them are dishonest in one way or another, some in more subtler ways than others. I see corruption everywhere. It's in our business dealings. It's in our justice system. It's in our mass media. It's especially in our politics. Corruption has become so pervasive we have come to accept it as a fact of life. Even those who get caught and convicted can still be considered successful. Sure, they may have to pay tens of millions in fines and spend some time in a country club federal pen, but they will still most likely be worth hundreds of millions when they get out. They will never know want or need or what it's like to live from paycheck to paycheck and will live out the rest of their days in the lap of luxury. Why? Because they learned how to be dishonest, and most of them get away with it. We have simply built a society that rewards dishonesty and punishes honesty.
In the meantime, I look at my own life. I go to work forty hours a week, as does my wife, and we still can't make ends meet. Yes, we live fairly well, but sometimes I feel I have more debt than the federal government. All my hard earned cash goes to the banks to pay the ungodly (and in my opinion dishonest) interest rates they charge. I'm seriously considering getting a second job, if I can find one. I struggle because I don't know how to be dishonest, how to steal the money I need from hard working people so I can live in the lap of luxury.
I watch the struggles of my adult daughter and her husband also. I see them in the same boat as I, only maybe a little deeper in the water. They are also hard working, honest people trying to make a life for themselves. It's tough for them to find work that pays a decent wage. They are having trouble financing their educations. I'm amazed they have enough to pay for their electricity every month. I watch them and I shake my head. I wish there was more I could do for them.
I wish there was something more I could have done for her.
I wish I could have taught her to be dishonest and successful. Maybe I still can do that for my two younger children. I wish I knew how.

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