Initiative Not Dependence by Rich Sena

Jul 21 2017
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Initiative, not Dependence

Rich Sena

Late one morning last week my doorbell rang. Firmly expecting to be given a pitch by a religious group, I was surprised to see a young boy holding a business card to give me, with a supportive mom standing beside him.

He asked if my house needed to have its trees trimmed, explaining that his parents had just finished a job in my neighborhood. It wasn’t surprising that they cold-called my house; the trees in front of my home were overgrown and sorely needed a trim.

I soon found out why the little boy, named Ronnie, was doing the talking; his mother spoke limited English. Between my somewhat limited Spanish, her limited English, and Ronnie’s assistance, we agreed to what I thought was a very reasonable price for their services.

While I saw Ronnie’s dad and his helper preparing to start the work, little did I know that the job would be a family affair. Ronnie’s grandmother, who appeared to be at least 70 years old, and both his older and younger sister all helped in collecting and breaking down the limbs that were trimmed. It was truly a team effort.

I asked Ronnie, who told me that he had just finished 2nd grade with all good grades, what his job was. He proudly responded, “I’m the salesman.” I inquired as to what his favorite subject was at school, and he said it was science. What does he want to be when he grows up? A doctor. I asked him why, and he told me he likes to help people. I followed by asking what he thought it would take to become a doctor, and he noted that it would take a lot of hard work, being smart, and lots of studying. I thought to myself, he’s pretty sharp for a 2nd grader, and encouraged Ronnie to work to achieve his dreams because that in America, anything is possible.

Having an inquiring mind as I do, I asked Ronnie what he has learned from being the “salesman” for the family business. Ronnie told me that he has learned to work hard so that he can help his family buy a house.

I later asked his mom where they were from originally. She explained that they were from El Salvador, and had followed other family members who emigrated earlier to America. Though they were not citizens yet, they have their green card and are here legally. Ines told me that they love America, and appreciate the opportunity and safety that they have here. “if you work hard you can live a good life here In America” Ines said.

Once the job was completed, Ronnie’s dad asked me if I was satisfied, and when I responded affirmatively, he smiled with pride. I couldn’t help but be impressed by this family’s initiative and resourcefulness. After all, in less than 10 years they had saved up to buy a truck and equipment to start their own business. I also couldn’t help but wonder why all too many native-born Americans don’t show the responsibility and initiative that this family does.

We hear endlessly from one side of the political spectrum how America is a racist, homophobic, Islamophobic society; how the deck is stacked against all but the rich (who need to be vilified and punished), and that the only way towards progress is to have more government assistance and redistribution of wealth.

Obviously, these people pay no heed to the wisdom of one of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, who once said, “I don’t believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good. So, while we don’t propose a war on capital, we do wish to allow the humblest man a chance to get rich with everybody else.”

Somehow Ronnie’s family never got the leftist memo that America is a mean-spirited place where only a select few can succeed.

This family’s story reminds me of my own grandparents, who came to this country with little money but lots of hope and a willingness to work very hard. My maternal grandfather, illiterate in his native Italian, let alone English, first worked on building railroad tracks and then started his own gardening business. My mother, who like Ronnie was only 8, was his “bookkeeper” and “customer service rep.”

Eventually, my grandparents bought a home (for cash) in a nice neighborhood with good schools, my mother graduated high school as the class salutatorian, and like all her siblings, went on to graduate from college. They were never told to view themselves as victims who should resent the country they chose to live in, but rather to love America.

Despite the efforts of some political demagogues and class warriors, the notion of hard work, entrepreneurship, and risk and reward is not yet dead. Thank God for people like Ronnie’s family to remind us of the wonderful opportunities that exist in our great nation.