Having been raised in a blue collar, working class home where the men in the family were up before the sun was – and having spent the day in the fields or the log woods and being exposed to hard manual labor at an early age – I have always had great respect for the working people. And, although many years ago I took the path less traveled, I still consider myself one of them.
In the 1940’s, there were few safety nets and fallback positions for the people I was raised among, and they needed little motivation to put their hands to the plow. They had just come out of the great depression and they were glad to be working.
They knew about hard times and did whatever it took to keep the wolves away from the door.
That meant the fields had to be plowed and prepared, and that the crops had to be planted and cared for, or there would be no harvest to sell in the fall and no money to see the family through the rest of the year.
It meant that the trees has to be felled and cut up and hauled to the sawmill or there would be no pay envelope coming on Friday afternoon.
That meant that, whatever it took and however long it took to do it, you were on the job. No excuses, no alibis. Unless you were sick enough to stay in bed, you were there every day doing your work because, if you didn't do it, there was nobody else who would.
You were responsible for putting food on the table, feeding and educating your children, and keeping a roof over their heads and clothes on their backs, because if you didn't nobody else would.
If the roof was falling in on your house and your kids went to school in ragged clothes, it was nobody's fault but yours. If the bank called your loan and you lost your land, you had nobody but yourself to blame.
Nobody else was going to plow your fields or harvest your crops. Nobody was going to magically appear and log your woods and haul your timber to market. It was on your shoulders, in your hands, it was your responsibility, period.
Admittedly, it was a tough and demanding way of life when viewed in retrospect, but at the time it was accepted as the norm and it fostered a breed of men who were capable, resourceful and able to take the storms of life in stride without complaint or petulance. Men who could grow a garden or build a new barn, who disciplined their children and paid their bills, whose word sealed with a handshake which was more binding than anything any high-priced attorney could ever draw up.
They fought our wars and raised a generation of patriots and took responsibility for their own lives and the lives and well-being of their families.
Something serious has happened in the last few decades, something that threatens the very foundation of the greatest nation the world has ever known and you can lay the blame at a lot of doors but when you get to the bottom of the pile it is my fervent belief that, by far, the biggest problem in our society today is the glaring lack of personal responsibility.
We have come to depend on outside influences and to leave our future in the hands of government agencies, unions and politicians who tell us what we want to hear. We are too willing to accept policies that are detrimental to the future of our children and society as a whole as long as it benefits us in the short run.
We want to be guaranteed a future complete with a job, medical care and adequate retirement, not predicated on the caliber of what we have produced and contributed or our work ethic, but by entities outside our control that may not be there when we need them.
We have given control of our futures over to organizations made up of fallible human beings who make bad decisions and politicians more concerned with self-preservation than making sure our benefits last as long as our lives do.
God made us as individuals with different talents and the ability to think and make decisions for ourselves, the ability to reason and with the ability and duty to take responsibility for the direction of our own lives.
It's high time America started taking responsibility for our own individual actions and find our way back to greatness. What do you think?
Pray for our troops, and for our country. God Bless America.
(Charlie Daniels is an American songwriter and singer)