If only it were true that hard work leads to success
Cal Thomas' Aug. 19 column suggested that people "wallowing in self-pity, low expectations, and welfare dependency" should take an example from stories "in the tradition of Horatio Alger." I am confused by this suggestion because, in fact, Alger was an author of fiction.
Presumably, Thomas thinks that the rags-to-riches narrative exemplified by Alger's tales is something that often happens in reality, but the recent American experience gives no reason to think this is the case. Middle-class wages have been stagnating and upward mobility has been decreasing for decades.
Why should the poor take solace from fictional stories claiming that hard work is all that's necessary for success when the realities of their lives contradict this narrative?
Perhaps Thomas is suggesting that the poor and jobless follow the example of Alger himself. Alger (1832-1899) was a privileged, Harvard-educated minister who lost his position in the Unitarian Church due to allegations of sexual misconduct with young boys in his congregation. He then made a living as a writer of formulaic stories about impoverished, uneducated boys rising to prosperity through hard work and moral purity.
Thomas might be on to something here; he himself has made a lucrative career out of chiding others for their supposed laziness, and many members of his political party have done much the same.
Maybe we can all be so lucky as to find work telling others that they're not working hard enough.
Job worth doing
The first Monday in September is more than a day of leisure marking the unofficial end of summer. Since 1894, it has been a national holiday, to recognize the importance of work and to pay tribute to those who are engaged in work.
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, "All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence." Since the beginning of the Judeo-Christian tradition, it has been recognized that it is good and honorable to earn a living "by the sweat of the brow."
Work is honorable, and the most menial task, when it is seen as beneficial or useful, is significant. All labor seen as beneficial can be uplifting, fulfilling and rewarding. Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk at the monastery at Gethsemani in Nelson County, wrote in a diary on March 12, 1947, "Nevertheless, work in the fields helps contemplation. Yesterday we were out in the middle bottom, spreading manure all over the gray mud of the cornfields. I was so happy I almost laughed out loud."
Phillip Brooks, a well-known 19-century clergyman said, "There is only one way to improve one's work: love it." Centuries before Brooks, the Judeo-Christian tradition set this standard: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart."
If work is worth doing, it is worth doing well and deserves one's best effort. Those who possess this attitude toward their work are worthy of respect and honor.
Cure for Texas droughts
Concerned about the economic impact that a two-year drought has had on his state, Gov. Rick Perry (a presidential hopeful and skeptic of climate change) called on his fellow Texans to pray on three consecutive days for rain. Alas, these collective prayers fell on deaf ears.
What to do? Let me float an idea without conjuring up those tiresome statistics and graphs as weather scientists so often do that purportedly chart evidence of climate change.
Here's my idea: On a given day, Perry should exhort Texans to wash their cars; those without cars or who are otherwise handicapped should at least plan a picnic. It has been my own unhappy experience that either of these gestures has had the happy consequence of jolting into action whatever powers control rainfall.
Troop visit commended
Gov. Steve Beshear made me proud by visiting our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our men and women in uniform deserve our sincere thanks for doing the hardest job there is.
I'm a veteran and I remember how much it means to have someone from home come for a visit.
Thank you, governor.
Stay out of the way
How many of us have squeaked through a yellow light, only to find ourselves blocking an intersection? If you raised your hand (or eyebrow), this is for you: Please don't.
Take a moment, think about your fellow motorists, then stop before you end up upsetting everyone.
Also, to our Urban County Government, how about some big signs above the Fayette Mall intersections stating "If you block this intersection you will be fined." Then have the guts to put some teeth behind it with live police officers or remote cameras.
A government job
A TV ad for Sen. David Williams emphasizes what a great man his father was and how he always tried to live up to his father's standards.
I didn't know his dad, a teacher and a coach, but I'm sure he was a good man. I did notice that he seemed to always be on some government payroll.
Williams says he is running because people are hurting and he wants to help them. My guess is that his primary reason is he wants to keep up the family tradition and stay on that government check.
While he has been fairly successful running in the district that he keeps the pork flowing to, he may find others in the state are not as fond of his antics in Frankfort.
Edward R. Warford
Many thanks to letter writers for stating the truth about the mess at Kentucky Speedway. I was caught in traffic for five hours, and it was not the fault of Kentucky's highways.
The fault lay with Bruton Smith and his employees, and he needs to man up and accept responsibility. He also needs to set his considerable talents and resources to work to prevent another such fiasco.
I have been to several Nationwide races there previously without incident. Maybe Smith should hire former track owner Jerry Carroll to run the place.