Recently, I wrote a rather scathing post challenging the so-called Rust Belt States to stop living in the past and begin preparing for the future. I'll readily admit that my language there was not as conciliatory as I present it here. I was angry that these States, largely, but not exclusively, located in the Midwest, had chosen to side with the current administration's plan to remove the United States from its previous commitment to the Paris Climate Accord.
I make no apologies.
I still believe that the people who are the most outspoken in support of Mr. Trump and his policies are faulty in their thinking. This may sound arrogant, but allow me to present my case.
One of the themes that I hear repeatedly from the people who live in the area in question is their sense of respect for their culture, history, and heritage. They often say that their father and uncles worked the mines as did their fathers before them and so on. If it was good enough for them, it's good enough for me. This sense of continuity and the pride that comes with earning a good living from difficult and dangerous work is admirable.
I get it.
But, it's a different ethos from the one that I grew up with.
Allow me to elaborate.
My parents were the children of relatively poor, Sicilian immigrants. As was the case for most immigrants of that time, America gave them a chance - if they worked hard, if they assimilated, they could be successful. They did and, so, they were. We had a roof over a heads and food in our bellies - always. But, here is were my parents and their dreams for me and my siblings seem to differ greatly from those whose families worked the mines.
My parents and, in particular, my father, was ADAMANT about ME living a BETTER life than HIS - which was greater than his father's and so on. And, NO ONE need tell a Sicilian about the importance of tradition. NO ONE. But, part of it as I know it to be, is to continually create a better life for your children. And, for my family that meant pursuing a HIGHER EDUCATION. My father was adamant about this, almost brutal, in fact. When things got tough for me at school, he simply would NOT let me quit. He KNEW it was the key to my success - and, in the end, he was SO right. There is a seminal scene in "The Godfather", when Don Corleone laments to his son: "Michael, I never wanted this for you. I wanted you to have something better".
So, my question to these people who still cling to the old ways is this: do you not want what's best for your children? Because you suffered to get by, must they? My grandfather was a mason, and a good one. So, must I be one, too?
It's time for people to stop looking for excuses and clinging to the hopes and dreams of past generations. EVERYONE in American should have the means AND the DESIRE to create a better future for themselves and their children. The past is gone and the future will be what WE make it. THIS is what Paris is truly about . . .