Monthly Archives: November 2014

Redefining Society

A recent article in the Abilene paper discussed the problem of homeless children in the district, which is a growing concern in America. Two of the definitions for “homeless” were “sharing a bedroom” and “not having a place to study.” When did society determine it was a “right” to have a private bedroom?

I grew up in a dysfunctional home: a mom and a dad who were married to each other before the birth of their two children and were still married to each other. A rarity in today’s society, it seems. It was dysfunctional in other ways, too. I shared a room with my sister (and in those days we didn’t have twin beds or bunk beds), studied at the dining room table amid the family noise and bustle, and managed to make A’s and a few B’s in high school

Unlike most Americas, I’ve spent time overseas in a third world country, oops, “developing nation.”   I’ve seen homeless children and the Abilene paper’s definition doesn’t cover them. I’ve seen a country filled with children living in a two-room or one room home, sleeping in the same bed with their parents. Those children work hard in school; they are motivated to succeed, and their grades are not determined by their home life. I’ve also seen “homeless” children roaming those same streets; they are the ones who don’t attend school, who haven’t enough to eat and no place to sleep.

Perhaps Americans are too quick to play the blame game and assume there is an easy solution to everything. Perhaps we are too indulgent, well-fed, well-cared for, so that we have forgotten that the amount of what we have doesn’t necessarily determine the value of what we have. Success is not determined by circumstance, rather it is determined by internal fortitude. A quick review of history supports this in the life stories of countless entrepreneurs, scientists, inventors, and statesmen who would be deemed “homeless” by the Abilene paper’s standards, yet became success through sheer hard work and determination, not in spite of their circumstances, but because of them and the desire to have a better life.

 

 

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How Addicted Are We?

Living in rural America has always presented certain interesting challenges, the least of which is obtaining any kind of reliable television broadcast or radio signal. One would imagine in today’s world of high-tech gadgets, such an issue would no longer exist.

Well, it depends. On whether it’s been raining, whether it’s a holiday weekend, whether anyone at the Internet company is actually interested in customer service or just making a profit.

For several years we struggled with the “big” companies trying to convince them that enough people lived and worked in rural America to make it worth their while to bring Internet to the boondocks. Finally we got their attention, but only for a little while. After the big guys decided that rural America didn’t bring enough profit, (so producers, farmers, ranchers, the people who feed the rest of America don’t deserve the same service), the smaller companies moved in and we finally arrived in the 21st century. But after a couple of years of good service and milking the rural community for all the profit there was to be had, instead of maintaining good customer relationships, the smaller companies went the way of the big companies and we’re pretty much back where we started — intermittent or no Internet at all.

Unfortunately, rural America is as addicted to the Internet as urban America. We miss our Netflix, we miss our tunes, and our news. Mainly we miss staying in touch with the rest of the world: ie. our families and jobs. For some of us, not having Internet access cripples our ability to further our education or continue our work. Just a few weeks ago, the continuing “blackout” of Internet service forced me to drive into a nearby town in order to sit at a fast food place while I completed an online class.

It’s frustrating anyway, but the idea of paying a monthly fee for services not received is beginning to really grate on my nerves. I can actually use that money for something else that will have long term dividends instead of pouring money down a black hole. Let’s face it, if I’m going to have to do my Internet surfing at a fast food restaurant, why am I paying a company to “provide” Internet access?

I don’t think it will take much more to convince my family we can do without this. After all, we have DVDS, there’s a Red Box nearby, and we are very fond of reading and writing our own stories. Yes, we’re from the “old” generation, who knows how to use our time creatively. I’m not sure the “young” generation could survive without their Internet and perhaps, that makes all the difference. While the older generation uses the Internet for research, the younger generation uses it for play. And children who lose their playtime get very cranky.

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