By J. Hogan
In this oddly hyper-sensitive era where so many things are determined by how folks feel about something, the ground is fertile for bad information, rumor, innuendo and the confident settling upon hollow conclusions.
This makes some folks feel comfortable when they really shouldn’t feel that way. Often a bad result is because of a bad effort, and blaming others doesn’t help improve the input side of the equation – which sets up an oddly defeatist cycle.
Let’s say Andy’s family came to the states three generations ago from Italy. Andy works for a local landscaper, but it doesn’t pay much, and he feels like he can’t get ahead.
When a coworker who busts his hump every day and got certified on the forklift and backhoe recently got a raise, Andy, who moves at a more leisurely pace at work and isn’t interested in learning to use the larger equipment, said his boss just doesn’t like Italians.
Andy’s older sister Gina served in the Air Force and got the G.I. Bill. When she got out of the service, she went to community college, then to Pitt dental school, and now has a practice in Erie.
She had encouraged her brother to go to the service, but Andy wasn’t interested. Now he envies her success and says she caught all the breaks because she’s female. Recently she offered to pay for her brother to go to trade school, but Andy isn’t interested.
Andy is in a typical modern trap. He feels like everyone else gets the breaks, and everyone is aligned against him because he’s male and Italian (or female and Hispanic, or Black, or Irish, the scapegoated ethnicity matters little.) Because he conveniently blames and envies everyone else, he can’t see how they made their own breaks through hard work and risk, and he makes few gains in life because grievances rarely trump hard work and education.
Worse, Andy’s assumptions about others’ motivations is errant. He assumes his boss doesn’t like Italians, but his boss doesn’t even know Andy is of Italian descent. He simply knows the thing bosses care most about… Andy isn’t very motivated to get the job done or earn advancement. By attributing a racist viewpoint to his boss, Andy is maligning him, and not able to address what really holds Andy back.
That maligning is a serious matter, too. Folks don’t deserve to be unfairly painted with the brush of someone else’s grievance.
My next-door neighbors are of a (nationally, not in our neighborhood) minority ethnicity. They have nice cars, nice furniture and careers full of promotions and advancement. They sacrificed to send their children to the best private school in the county.
They’re not apt to sit around complaining about how race, gender or anything else is holding them back… they’re too busy creating the life they want to live. In the process, they’re running laps around some others who sit about complaining about how the system is holding them down.
Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church in McKees Rocks.