Sarah Palin has a message for graduates this spring. It’s simple and folksy and smacks of the kind of practical sentiment that made the Pitbull of Wasilla a household name. What Mrs. Palin says, by way of catchy graphic, is this:
Yeah! Get off your butt! Make a buck! Work hard, get rich! ‘Merica!
Because it’s all about the money, right?
What the hell happened to serving humanity? Shouldn’t graduates be exhorted to get off their butts and make a difference? Help humanity? Create something beautiful? Build something useful? Save lives, shape minds, clean the air or the water, feed the hungry? Wouldn’t any of those things be the kinds of prizes worthy of young eyes? Does it all have to be about money?
There are times when I see the pursuit of wealth for the sake of wealth and it makes me feel like our society has gone off the rails. When did the pursuit of wealth become a virtue? Since when is being rich a peak achievement? It just seems like a hollow achievement to be rich if your legacy doesn’t also include substance.
Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to have the kind of money to insulate me and my family against crisis. Knowing I could write a check for whatever we needed to safeguard our health and safety would be my idea of ultimate security. But I’m not after fancy cars or a mansion or designer shoes. And I’m willing to sacrifice a lot of luxuries in favor of integrity. I’d rather make a mark on my community than make a buck.
America is not a reality show with cash prizes. It’s a society, a community. We do – or we should – have a responsibility to look after more than our bank accounts once we’ve taken care of our own basic needs. As I’ve said before, if the plane depressurizes, by all means put your own oxygen mask in first but then check to see if the person next to you needs help with theirs. Sitting back and breathing deeply while your neighbor gasps is inhumane if you could help them get air.
“Go get yours” is not the message I’d send to young people. I’d tell them to mingle in the cities and towns of our country and get to know as many people as they can. I’d tell them to step out of their comfort zones and learn about the ways all kinds of Americans live. Then I’d tell them to take that knowledge and understanding with them as they embark on a career. Let humanity influence their next moves. Let compassion drive them off their butts. That would serve the nation better than all the bucks at Fort Knox.
Rebekah Kuschmider is a DC area mom with an over-developed sense of irreverence, socialist tendencies, a cable news addiction, and a blog. Rebekah has an undergraduate degree in theatre and Master’s in Arts Policy and Administration and a decade of experience managing arts organizations and advocating in the public health sector. Rebekah also blogs about her life, her thoughts, and her opinions at StayAtHomePundit.com. She was voted one of the Top 25 Political Mom Blogs at Circle of Moms. Her work has also been seen at Salon.com, Redbook online, and the Huffington Post.