Young Americans think differently than older citizens. Well, that is no news flash. What is noteworthy is the change in the younger generation’s perception of work. It’s a citizenship issue and will profoundly affect our future if we don’t speak up for the value of work. Take a look at these stories:
Last weekend, I was in a conversation with two office managers. You may have a story similar to theirs. Office manager #1 interviewed a twenty-something who was engaging, bi-lingual, teachable, and a good fit for the retail store. She never worked a full-time job before, nor one with significant personal interactions with the public. In her second interview, Office manager #1 offered her the job at 13.80 per hour to start. The candidate responded, “No, I thought it would pay more,” and walked out.
Office manager #2 asked if any of us knew suitable candidates who are willing to accept professional, full-time office work. She interviewed a candidate who said, “My mother asked me why I want to go to work when the government would pay me to stay home.” The candidate responded to her mother, “because I’m tired of sitting around.” Office manager #2 said that other candidates make appointments for interviews but don’t show up. No calls, nothing.
What is wrong with this picture? First, parents ought to be encouraging their adult children to get a job. Our country needs their service. The more you stay home, the harder it is to “put yourself out there” for employment. The time is now.
One young man said he has looked for over a year for a job. He will only look at retail pet stores. He wants to work with animals. Where is the guidance from older adults in his life? Food and privileges are big motivators, especially if you lack them. What if it’s not your dream job? Money is freedom and a resume’ builder. The skills you learn today may lead you to your dream job tomorrow.
Another problem is the expectation that people in their post-high school and post-college years will have a starting salary that will buy a lifestyle it took years for their parents to earn. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. “If you want what other people have, do what other people do.”
Let’s take a lesson from history. George Washington Carver said, “I would never allow anyone to give me money, no difference how badly I needed it. I wanted literally to earn my living.” And earn a living he did. His life story is one of overcoming one adversity after another to be a significant contributor to American society. We still benefit today, not only by his extraordinary life example but by his agricultural contributions in farming, education, and raising people from poverty.
Frederick Douglass said, “The lesson taught at this point by human experience is simply this, that the man who will get up will be helped up; and the man who will not get up will be allowed to stay down. … Such men may have greatness thrust upon them, but they never achieve greatness.”
Again, if we want other people to have (dignity, self-worth, a sense of purpose, overcoming challenges, an income, a better life economically, a free country, etc.), we must do what other people do.
This is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship.🇺🇸