Sunday, March 1, 2009

WHAT I BELIEVE


At this time in my life it is important to take stock of my beliefs. We as members of a Western Civilization, share a culture. My culture is that of a lifelong Catholic. That entails a lot of things but most importantly it forms my beliefs. I grew up a Catholic, but that is more important than it sounds. My Catholicism was my life. I say that because my friends, my activities as a child, and my education were Catholic. The Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) accounted for my experience with sports. Now you may ask yourself what's important about that. Well, sports was central to my life. I played basketball, baseball, and football from the time I could walk. I got pretty good at all of them.

My youth was spent playing these games with my friends. I formed bonds with them that were nearly as strong as my family. My parents and all my friends' parents watched us play games as long as I can remember. It was very important to all of our families to achieve. I grew up in a lower middle class neighborhood of working fathers. They desperately wanted us to have a better life than they had. There wasn't a lot of money but there was a lot of parenting. If I did something wrong up the block, I could count on my friends' parents setting me straight. I got more than one spanking from my friends' parents and they got more than one from mine.

Catholic schools weren't cheap and my parents were strapped to keep my brothers and me in school. Public school was out of the question. When I was twelve I got a paper route. It had to be in the morning because I had to play sports. The papers came at about 4 AM. I slept in the room closest to the front door and I sprang out of bed (slowly) every morning. I delivered the papers with my dog, Lucky, and got back to bed about 5:15 AM. He was tired and so was I. I used the money to help pay for school and all the extras, i.e. varsity jacket and sweater, class ring, prom, etc.

Now I need to tell a story here, so bear with me. One morning it was raining like crazy. I didn't want to pedal around in the deluge, so I thought, maybe dad will drive me around in his new Ford Falcon. I gently knocked on the door of my parents' room and my dad answered. He listened to my pitch about the rain with patience considering it was about 4 AM. Then he said to me "Son, I have to get up later this morning to go to my job. I won't ask you to go to my job, so don't ask me to go to yours." That taught me that I had to do my job. It was my responsibility and no one else's. A great life lesson taught by a man who was raised in an orphanage.

I tell you all this because I sincerely believe that we are shaped by our life experiences. I became a cop because I thought it was important to try to make the community better. I went in the service because I thought it was the right thing to do. I was taught by my parents that people do things because they are supposed to. Good people do the things because it is right. Not for personal gain, but because it is right. That's what Americans do. My grandfather went war in the WWI, my dad in Korea, me in Vietnam. It was what Americans do, because it's the right thing to do. Neither of my parents had much formal education, but they understood that they and their children were fortunate to be Americans and with that came responsibility. If I remember one lesson from my parents it was this: To be an American is a responsibility.

My mother's parents were German. She learned to speak German before she learned English. She remembers that she and her friends from the German neighborhood were made fun of because of their accented English. She fondly remembers a comic strip called the Katzenjammer Kids because she was embarassed about her speech.

Her parents taught her that nobody owed them anything. They earned everything with hard work. That's what it takes to succeed. My grandfather's dad died when he was 13. He didn't have an education but my mother said he read incessantly. He made his children read incessantly. My mother can still recite passages from books that her father made her read and quizzed her on everyday. We are losing that drive to succeed. Where will we end up next?

That's installment one. I want to talk about religion next. Thanks for reading this.

6 comments:

Z said...

"thanks for reading this"? it's a gift...we should thank you.
I love that scene with your father.."Son, I do my job...you have to do yours" They SURE don't make 'em much like THAT anymore... And he was from an orphanage.
It's so important to be raised with a wealth of CHARACTER instead of WEALTH....your family shows it in spades and your personality shows it in your blogs and comments at our blogs.

Personally, I'd like a discussion someday about whether we should reinstigate orphanages vs foster care. I hear nightmares of foster care, kids being thrown around from home to home, the financial situation sticky to the point where people take the kids only for the remuneration...AWFUL. I often wonder if well run orphanages with fine people in charge, who cared, wouldn't be more stable homes for kids who weren't adopted.

I don't see great character today; our kids are weak...we can't allow scoring for little kids so we only let them play 10 minutes an inning! We don't invite the non award winning kids to awards ceremonies anymore lest they feel badly they didn't do as well. THAT's teaching character? Teaching soldiers? Teaching cops?

WHAT THE HECK will we DO without those people? They're gone! It's astonishing. And scary.

I can't wait till you write more ...on your faith. Wonderful discussion with you about the excommunicated Bishop at my place, too, L&0..thanks So much. Happy Sunday to you.

Average American said...

L&O Teacher, you upbringing sounds like I could have written it, except for the Catholic school part, we couldn't afford that. I tried to do for my children what my parents did for me. I spent 16 years as a Boy Scout leader, just so I could help raise my children's friends right along with them. The dividends made every minute spent well worth it, plus I had a blast doing it. I even stayed in for years after they left the program. Still today, some parents go all out like that, but no wheres near enough of them. Most expect the school system to teach them AND raise them. Shameful!

PRH....... said...

Good Stuff Steve....family and personal history{I am a Genealogy Researcher}, are usually far more interesting that any non fiction works could ever be.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Z, AA, Pat,
Thanks for the visit. I'll write the next part when school calms down. We are preparing for state testing and it really hectic. I want to get on with the next post and I'll get to it as soon as possible. Thanks again.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Pat,
I've got a lot of research done on my family, but I'm at an impasse. Someday I'd like to get some advice from you.

PRH....... said...

Steve....I can probably help...I've worked hard at the Houseworth clan{something I knew almost nothing about} since 1999...when you get some time{and I know, being married to a teacher, that is not eazy this time of the year}. Go to my genealogy website and start at the beginning{the early posts}....

http://israelhouseworth.blogspot.com/

But I'll be glad to help you get started when you have time.