“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.” ― Alice Walker, The Color Purple
With the presidential election looming like a dangerous mushroom cloud off in the distance, there has been much debate about the small business owner. In a speech back in July, President Obama said this: “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” He meant, of course, that a business needs other people to succeed. It needs customers. It needs roads for people to travel on and supermarkets to feed those people and schools to educate them so they can count up the money they use to pay you. But the Republicans, and their unfortunate champion Mitt Romney, jumped on this statement, using it as proof that Obama does not understand the small businessman, and organizing "We Built This" rallies all over the country.
Romney and his supporters can get as self righteous as they want, but the truth is that no one is successful all on their own. What about the wife who stayed home and raised your kids so you could spend all hours at the office making all that money? What about all the people who work their ass off daily for you? What about the people who spend their hard earned money on your product? What about pure, dumb luck? You didn't get there all by yourself and at any moment you could become the guy on the other side of the tracks. So donate some of your millions to charity and then say thank you. (And I do not mean just to God.)
I run a small business and over the past five years my family has been lucky enough to live off of it. We work really, really hard to make the dojo successful, and by successful I mean that we can pay all our bills and maybe have enough left over for a bottle of wine and some pasta. We take one vacation a year and it is to New Jersey. Our daughter goes to public school. We live in Brooklyn. We are not rich, by any means, and we don't care. Why? Because I get to walk through Central Park at noon on a Thursday, teach karate to some kids, and then go home and snuggle with my four year old. I am thankful for this life every single day.
We did not build this on our own. We have students, over a hundred of them, and any or all of them could quit at any point. We rent a commercial space that may someday be sold and torn down to build a giant Trump Tower. We are young and healthy and strong, but we may not be forever. Oh, and the reason we ended up with a dojo in the first place is that someone passed away. But that's a whole other story.
We are really good at what we do. But we are lucky. Very lucky. And the day I forget that is the day I become someone I never want to be.
I don't understand the level of selfishness in this country, I really don't. But it seems that the more horror stories I hear the more determined I become to do something good. To prove that there are selfless people out there. To prove that not everyone is all about the bottom line. (And I live in NYC so that is really saying something.)
For every jerk who cuts across three lanes of traffic just to be the first car to the red light, there is someone else who stops to let an old lady slowly hobble across the street. There are people who donate to charity, who volunteer at soup kitchens after work, who run half marathons in support of homeless pets.
I am not always a good person. Some days, in fact, I am a selfish bitch. But I am trying. And every day is a new day to try.
Did you do a good deed today? Did you observe a random act of selflessness? Please post your stories on my new website at http://www.pinupthegood.com. Lets kill them all with kindness!
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