GO BACK TO SCHOOL TO GIVE YOURSELF A FUTURE

Opinion
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Hilbert Morales
EL OBSERVADOR

With all ‘news happenings’ these days which is worthy of commentary, an important one is to deal with the most significant local happening: “The next academic school year begins just before Labor Day Holiday, September 3, 2018. Teachers are preparing their lesson plans and classrooms. Soon many students will go back to school. Some will not because ‘they want to make money now’. My observation is that individuals who have not completed their high school training end up being ‘very low wage earners’ who struggle through life. So, go back to school to give yourself a better future!

My family wanted me to go to work after I was 16 years old and contribute my wage earnings to help the family meet its expenses. I joined the military at age 17 and sent home money. I soon began learning from my life’s activities by being willing to admit to myself ‘I did not know’, learning how to ask questions, and learning to develop relationships with friends, associates, mentors and advisors.

By age 26, I had earned a degree (Bachelor of Science, B.Sc.) in Chemistry and a master’s degree in Biological Sciences (M.Sc.); at age 46 I added my third degree (M.P.H.), Master’s degree in Public Health. Also, I studied Business Administration (focus: organizational planning and systems analysis).

When my dad became ill, I was able to pay off their mortgage which ensured that the Morales family had a home as long as they paid property taxes, did required maintenance work, and kept up things. My point is that my advanced education allowed me to have the higher income and credit rating which enabled me to assist my parents and siblings to a level not possible otherwise. Looking back, my investment in my own education paid off.

It would have been easy to write about Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who just died, who was the son of an Admiral, and grandson of another Admiral. McCain attended the Naval Academy where he ended up being ranked at the bottom of his class. As an individual, John was a maverick who questioned everything and did not ‘just go along to get along’. McCain became a pilot who was shot down over Hanoi, Vietnam; endured over 5 years of being a prisoner of war who survived torture and was repatriated when the Vietnam war ended.

Then he was successfully elected as a U.S. Congressman, later a U.S. Senator. All in all, John McCain served 30 years in the military plus 30 years as an elected official who was highly respected for his personal character, integrity, honesty, and commitment to serve this American nation he loved.

That is an achievement for an individual who ranked at the bottom of his graduation class!

Now, why should students go back to school to earn a high school degree? Well, having a high school degree is the beginning. The high school diploma is a certificate which lets others know that you know some math, are able to read, write, and communicate in English language (and even another language such as Spanish, Chinese, or a ‘tribal language’).

You can communicate with your friends and sustain interpersonal relationships. The most important individual with whom you will sustain a relationship will be your significant partner: your wife, husband, best friend, or role model.

All of us use some math when dealing with our money. It is important to manage the money you earn because what many adolescents do not fully understand is that their parents and family plus society and government support their individual development by underwriting public schools whose purpose is to provide basic education (reading, writing, arithmetic, and social relationship skills).

Laws establish that youth are required to attend school until they are 18 years of age. The assumption is that by that age you know enough to become ‘an independent individual’ who is able to manage his/her own personal business. A STUDENT’S JOB THEREFORE IS TO LEARN THIS BASIC SET OF SKILLS which will enable you to learn all you become interested in. If you find a discipline you really enjoy, then do develop that interest.

Today, it is possible to learn a lot about many professions by taking advantage of ‘coursework’ available online (e.g., Khan Academy). Also, lots of knowledge (information) is accessible at the local public library. Understand that a basic skill is your ability to read. Your reading ability will permit you to teach yourself quite a lot simply by looking up definitions.

All basic courses in any discipline are really ‘language courses’ where you learn basic definitions. The most useful information provides you with truthful factual facts. I became a chemist even though I was from a low-income family and had 9 brothers and 3 sisters.

It is your parents who have taught you language skills along with ‘do’s and don’ts’ rules. The Decalogue (10 Commandments) are learned at catechism classes and are essential to being able to move around and about outside your family and in your community. The first four commandments deal with your relationship to GOD; the other six, beginning with ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ending with ‘Do not covet your neighbor’s goods’, all deal with your relationships with other individuals, relatives, friends, business associates, and all others. All faiths have a similar set of rules. The Decalogue is basic to being civilized.

It is important to develop and adopt a system of logic which enables you to make evidence based good decisions in your own best interests. Today’s algorithms and paradigm are very useful especially when based upon the science involved. Do not be afraid of ‘science’, it is a Latin word which means ‘knowledge’. One statement I like is very true: “Humankind succeeds when individuals conduct their activities by following the laws of nature’ and live up to established and accepted values.

Senator John McCain achieved much through his being truthful, kind, generous to a fault; and being a leader who was concerned about promoting Democracy throughout the world. His life’s journey is one of service to his nation with principals he believed and practiced, dedication to duty, and respecting both friends and opponents.

“McCain’s personal virtue— his insistence on the importance of honor, resolute candor, his graciousness toward adversaries, his willingness to sacrifice, his ability to laugh at himself and admit to his failings—stand in stark contrast to our current leadership, particularly the President.”

“McCain will loom large historically because he represented a way of doing politics that is in danger of being lost and stood for a capacious sense of the public interest and the common good that will have to be at the heart of any reconstruction of our democracy.”(Source: “John McCain Will Likely Join the Pantheon of Giants in U.S. History” – E.J. Dionne, Jr., San Jose Mercury News, 08.28.2018, page A7)

I am certain Senator John McCain would tell all who are considering dropping out of school: GO BACK TO SCHOOL TO GIVE YOURSELF A FUTURE. A future that is your choice, not that imposed by an autocratic government. This happens in nations where, “WE THE PEOPLE” govern. It’s called a DEMOCRACY.

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