Focus on your own blessings
Mark O'BrienMy buddy "John" seems to have it all. He's a professional who is paid big bucks for his work, and he owns a fabulous vehicle and other expensive "toys" that cost him considerable dollars for maintenance and fuel.
Published: November 22, 2012
Published: November 22, 2012
Yet he's mad at the world. More specifically, he's mad about these low-income people who get free and discount cell phones from the government.
"I should get one," he says.
Actually, he should be glad he's not qualified to get one. Check out the guidelines and you see the phones are meant for low-income people in a program enacted under President Ronald Reagan and expanded since then.
No doubt there are abuses and excesses, but generally speaking, the plan makes sense. As the Federal Communications Commission explains, the government uses taxes paid on telephones to provide free and discount services to low-income people "to help ensure they have the opportunities and security that telephone service affords, [to] include being able to connect to jobs, family, and 911 services."
The bigger point here is that John — and a lot of us — should be more grateful for what we have and less bitter about what low-income people have. Yet to hear rich and semi-rich folks, the "takers" are having a party a day on what we "makers" give them.
I've been poor and I can tell you that being poor isn't all it's cracked up to be — worrying about menial jobs, hoping the rent check clears, living in a lousy neighborhood, walking because the car broke down and the repair bill is beyond reach.
I have other friends like John, and you probably do, too.
There's "Roger," who growls whenever a commercial for lawyers comes on TV. He hates the lawyers who are looking for people who have been harmed by medical products, oil spills or whatever.
"These lawyers are always looking for a way to make money," he says.
My view: Be glad our system allows lawyers to protect people from defective products and get compensation. Trial lawyers may be overloaded with ego, but they've made the world a lot safer and more accountable than it would be if corporations could just say that everything was A-OK and tell us to trust them.
Then there's "Samantha," who thinks young people shouldn't be allowed to borrow money for college.
If not for student loans, I never would have made it through college, and while it took me a long time, I did repay the money and I did establish a career and contribute to society. So I'm glad the program is there, even if there are risks.
Risks mean there also are opportunities for improvement, and many people who take those risks do improve their lives.
That's what we should appreciate this Thanksgiving.
Formerly a columnist for the Pensacola News Journal, Mark O'Brien is a writer in Pensacola, and the author of "Pensacola on My Mind" and "Sand in My Shoes." He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.