Some contrast. The appreciation for America shown by the Lebanese salesman vs. the lack of same demonstrated by the "radical socialist." The socialist showed little appreciation or understanding of the greatness of this country and its abundance, which results from economic freedom, separation of church and state, respect for individual rights, and relatively low taxes and regulation, all of which create an incentive for people like the Lebanese salesman to take risks that mutually benefit both himself and the "radical socialist."
This country allowed my father, a child of the Depression who never knew his biological father, to overcome Southern racism through pride, hard work and focus. My entrepreneurial-minded dad applied for a taxi license in a Southern court but was denied by the judge, who referred to my father as "a nigger."
Dad became a Marine in World War II, stationed as a cook on Guam, while America prepared for the invasion of the island of Japan, an invasion aborted by the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet when my dad returned to the South to get a job as a cook, the racist restaurateurs refused to hire him, claiming that he "lacked references."
My father applied the same attitude he later taught my brothers and me and said, "What can I do about it?" He then relocated to Los Angeles, a city he visited pre-war as a train Pullman porter, in a search for better employment opportunities. There, too, no restaurant hired him, claiming that he "lacked references."
He went to an unemployment office, taking the first job that presented itself -- that of a janitor. He worked that job for nearly 12 years, taking a second full-time janitor position elsewhere. He also went to night school three nights a week to get his G.E.D. He managed all this with a stay-at-home wife while raising three boys, finally saving enough to open his own cafe. Unlike our "radical socialist," he never complained about America's inequality, lack of opportunity or roadblocks placed in the paths of less-advantaged people.
Work hard, get an education, learn a trade, and don't make bad moral mistakes, he always told us. Don't blame others, and "the sky is wide open" if one only sees the opportunities.
Some, however, like the "radical socialist" shopper -- and my neighbor's cat, Moonie -- seem oblivious to the comfort, freedom and abundance that flow from America's historically unparalleled opportunities. At least Moonie, however, in an occasional display of affection, will from time to time rub against my leg in appreciation.
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