I'm taking 18th Century Philosophy this semester, which means even if I don't partake in pre-class conversations, just listening is usually mentally stimulating to some degree. While in many cases I don't agree with people have to say, it will get me thinking about what I would say if I was a part of the conversation. I actually pretty sure I listen more attentively when I disagree with people; I just find it more interesting.
Today was no exception. I was sitting waiting for class to start and I heard a girl mention how she hates it when people say they don't have the ability, resources, or money to be able to do things like go to college, get a job, or anything like that. She claims she got to college and is doing everything that college entails, including the financial stuff, all by herself. I find it entirely unlikely that this is the case. People are not these beings in vacuums that can just do whatever as long as they have enough willpower. My guess is it's unlikely she is doing everything it takes to get through college by herself. She seemed to be around my age so it's probable she enrolled in college immediately after finishing high school, meaning she probably isn't paying for it out of her own pocket. Even if she got loans, she had to have gotten a co-signer with good credit, be it her parents or whoever. This means she had to have had a guardian who could have done so. Not everyone has access to these sorts of things. Unless you're going to take less than 12 credits in a semester, college is going to cost you about $6000/year, which isn't cheap, much less affordable, to someone who has just finished high school. If you attend college, paying for it completely out of pocket, and take less than 12 credits per semester it's going to take you forever to graduate. There's nothing wrong with taking your time getting through college, but I'm sure most people don't want to remain in college forever.
My guess is the reason she believes in this sort of "ultimate responsibility" for the situation in which you find yourself comes down to a couple of things. One, is this major American capitalist ideal that you can make anything you want of your future with enough hard work (the other is the idea of the "soul", but I'm not going to get in to that in this post because I don't think it's as major of a contributor as the other) and due to the fact that I live in a highly conservative area, someone having this attitude here is not a surprise. Yes, I believe in personal responsibility, but I think the majority of people, at least in this country, disregard environment as a strong contributing factor to one's ability to "make their dreams a reality". An analogy that I think is fitting is an leg amputee who really wants to play football. Sure they may be able to keep themselves in shape, even without legs, but they could never make their dreams a reality without money, which would allow them to get legs that may make it able for them to play football. This is something that is an imposition upon their will that is not up to them. One's environment can do exactly the same thing. This is why people in poor areas of America tend not to be as educated. Kids who grow up in these areas end up working more hours at earlier ages than people who can afford to go to college and have a nice standard of living. They can't spend the time in order to better themselves or go to college, because they have to spend their time helping to feed and house their family. They can't just make themselves able to educate themselves, go to college, and free themselves from the burden of poverty, just like the amputee can just give themselves legs or the money to get new legs; it's the same type of imposition on their freedom.
This attitude of responsibility for not just actions, but for your entire situation/environment, is one of the main reasons why the conservative element of our society is so against entitlement programs like welfare, social security, and even progressive taxation and public education. Now it's universal health care. Sure, we have to have people be responsible for contributing to society but I think people acknowledge that they don't just make who they are out of nothing, and they certainly don't do it without any help.
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