Written by Michal Steiner DVGS 10th Grade
For the last 50-70 years we as a nation have made many advancements in technology and science; the iPod, unfortunately the atomic bomb, and cures to diseases that killed populations centuries ago. We think of history as progress, but in terms of morals and psychology, we seem to have been going backwards for years now. How many times do you hear someone say thank you, and know they sincerely mean it? This is a pleasure that many of us go without. People are no longer grateful, and think everything should be in their reach. They believe that whatever they want is at a hand’s length away, when reward is really always preceded by hard work. This simple truth is something many people inAmericatoday refuse to admit or acknowledge. They have lost simple gratitude and have forgotten what it is like to have to really work hard for something good to come their way.
Education was not something readily available to many children in the past. In fact, many children today are still deprived of a quality education. Every day more than 63,000 students are truant, undermining the access to knowledge and the vast global library of information. Migrant workers coming toAmericahad to constantly work to provide even a simple education for their children, and the children were grateful. Now, children go to school and are less concerned with learning than with what their best friend is wearing or what their classmates think of them instead of school curriculum or the virtues the school promotes. A child born into slavery during the American Civil War was grateful, just for the chance to peek over their young master’s shoulder as he or she learned to read, write, and do arithmetic. They peeked because it was actually against the law to teach a slave to read and cipher. Learning was a luxury very few of them were able to experience, and each one who did was grateful for the chance to progress their learning. As a young child, my parents dotingly taught me to prepare me for future learning. Yet, when I entered high school I regarded school as a playground for older kids. All that mattered to me was hanging out with my friends, having a good laugh, and not taking life seriously. I began to feel depressed, unworthy of life itself. I was like a paper cut to everyone around me, just there to inflict pain on them because I was a nuisance, completely unproductive. Because I performed so poorly at my school, I was transferred to an academically stricter school, and my grades soared much higher. Now I truly understand how important education is and how young people need to take advantage of the opportunities given to them, because they will be so grateful later in life.
Also, in this day of environmental turmoil, people continue to take their resources and the earth itself for granted. An example is our water resources. Many underprivileged people are grateful for one cup of clean water a day, whereas most middle class people in Americafreely dump it down the shower drain on a daily basis. A five minute shower takes more water than most average people in a developing country will use in a day. Our planet is suffering, and yet we have been so careless in wasting our resources and being ungrateful for the natural beauty that once surrounded us. What we have done is not wrong; we did not realize in the past that industrialization and agriculture would be so detrimental to the environment. However, what we are doing now is wrong. We continue to harm our planet and the environment, selfishly wanting more and more for us. My father would say it is sort of a “god complex;” everything is available to us and seemingly all for us, but it’s not. This is a truth we must realize in order to create a more sustainable society full of people who do not take the earth and life itself for granted.
Many people in the past took their parents into their homes as they reached old age. This was their way of expressing their gratitude to their parent’s for raising them, and providing money for their childhood and education. They did not leave their parents all alone, suffering from old age, to fend for themselves. Instead, they set an example for their own children, and showed how thankful they were for their parents. Shipping the elderly off to a nursing home is selfish in most cases. They feel isolated and excluded, unable to make their own decisions. Nursing home abuse is not a rare thing, and only about 20% of these incidents are reported, mostly due to the fact that the elderly don’t have the mental presence required to report them. My own grandmother lives in a nursing home, and is in stage 6 of Alzheimer’s disease. I would be livid if I ever found out she was treated in an unsuitable manner. Yet, who would be to blame? The nursing home or the people close to her? It goes against morality to stand by and watch something so dreadful happen to a powerless individual.
Sallust, a Roman historian said “Ambition breaks the ties of blood, and forgets the obligations of gratitude.” There we have it: a major American problem! We have so many people aiming for the top, and they never look down to the people before them or the people without opportunities. They forget that these are the people who led them to where they stand today. Yes, progress and improvement is never a bad thing, but for selfish reasons it loses its purpose. We have people now, who seek out instant satisfaction and who miss the feeling of achievement produced by delayed gratification. Our forefathers did not work so hard to create a nation for ungrateful citizens and immigrants alike! You can draw from pools of knowledge, but who will actually do something? Our nation needs to learn from the past how to be grateful for what we have here and now, drawing an irreplaceable sense of gratitude from our ancestors. By doing this, theUSwill finally have found a nation-wide community of people that can be a true model for the world as we have been in the past.
Michal Steiner 文 培德女中 十年級
蔡幸臻中譯 培德女中 十一年級
自然與科學，在過去的50到70年的期間有了很多前所未有的進步與發達，像是蘋果公司的iPod，和促使戰爭爆發的原子彈，當然還有那些能治癒往昔無法醫治疾病的醫術等等。我們經常把歷史當成是一種階段性的過程，但是在人倫道理上，我們似乎沒有像科學一樣進步，反而比以前更加退化了。在現今社會當中，有多少人拿出真心對待身邊的人? 又有多少人在說『謝謝』時，是真正充滿感恩的心? 這是現代人欠缺的基本禮儀及道德；人們不再知恩圖報，也漸漸地把他人對我們的好視為理所當然。我們儼然已經忘記了，成功的背後總是含著無數的艱辛和許多人勞苦的汗水；我認為這個簡單的道理已經被美國人徹底的遺忘了，我們不但失去了感恩的心，也失去了一種來自勤奮耕耘後，獲得成果而知足的心。
從小到大，我的父母就灌輸給我教育的重要性，也提前讓我知道要替未來設想。可是當我一進高中時，一開始我把學校當成了一個遊樂場，我竭盡的和朋友們虛度光陰，並沒有認真的看待生命。後來，我開始迷失了，我找不到生命的意義，更缺乏了認定自我潛能的信心。那時的我像是一道被紙割傷的小裂痕 – 我的存在，變的毫無意義，因為我什麼都做不到，也做不好。之後，我的在校表現糟糕到必須要轉學了。我到了一所很嚴格的學校 – 培德女中 – 而我的成績也被這個人人好學的環境影響而逐漸提升。如今，我深刻的體認到教育的重要，更發覺到年輕人必須要珍惜，並好好運用我們的天賦和所得的機會。
沙陸斯特 (Sallust) ，一位羅馬歷史學家說過：「野心使血緣關係破裂，並使人遺忘了感恩原來是種義務。Ambition breaks the ties of blood, and forgets the obligations of gratitude.」這個就是美國人的一大通病。很多人只是自私的想要爬上巔峰，讓自己成為頂尖的人物，但卻從不曾關心那些沒有機會的人。他們經常忘記那些曾幫他們達成理想的人。求進步和改進是件好事，但若是為了自私的理由而耍手段往前進，進步就失去了它的初衷。現有的人們，不是向外馳求瞬間的滿足感，就是失去了一種體會 – 一種因長期努力而達到目標才有的滿足感。