Government Watch / We The People

Earned Not Given

earned not given

“Earned not given.” Sometimes one phrase says it all. We live in an age when “easy” is preferred to “hard,” leisure beats sweat, largess is expected of Government – more COVID and unemployment money, loan forgiveness, anti-inflation checks. That all misses the point.

The truth is my own perception sometimes does too. For many years, recreation included marathons, among them five US Marine Corps Marathons. Each year, that phrase showed up on shirts. “Earned not given” seemed fitting for a marathon shirt. I barely thought more about it.

One day, the phrase caught me again, mind wandering to how Congress behaves, how those in the power act and live, somehow getting rich in public service, cheerfully spending other people’s money as if their own, as if spending defined their job, as if that were hard.

My thoughts wandered to how exceptionally hard Americans work, especially older Americans, how they resist unearned benefits, often unwilling to take what is given unless they feel it was earned – how they are lifted more by love, family, honor, and duty than free things or money.

Crossing my mind was how we are slipping, as a society. Members of Congress do not seem to understand, not even care if caught trading stocks and getting rich on insider information, as both parties have been. The honor and honesty we expect of them, somehow grows faint.

Often, they seem not to care that those they represent work hard but barely make ends meet. They dine high, then shrug and lie, passing bills like the “Inflation Reduction Act” that ramps up inflation, damaging pensions, life savings, college accounts, middleclass earnings. Where is the notion that high office, like that Marine Corps Marathon t-shirt, is “earned not given?”

My mind shifted to the Marines – to all veterans – who live by a code built around honor and merit, conviction and courage, not making excuses. There are no “do overs” in combat, no trophies for second place, little given without work, risk, and loss – all for self-respect.

Every member of Congress, White House staffer, Foreign Service Officer, governor, mayor, puffed-up councilor who glibly cuts police, every school board member who pushes Marxism, racism, “transgenderism” on our young kids, owes veterans beyond measure. Do they ever think on that?

Do they see it? Do they care? Do they understand it is for America that others serve, and that they are there? Expected in a society riven is just one thing, public service be honorable and “earned not given.”

My mind shifted to the quote. Where did it come from? Surely, it was tied to hard work, honor, the idea that anything worth anything is earned. Things given – even accepted with gratitude – are not earned.

The whole idea behind the quote introduced to me at the Marine Corps Marathon sounded all-American, if also timeless. But surprisingly, it did not originate here after all.

More surprising, it first appeared in the 1500’s in writings of a Pakistani King, Hussein Nishad, of whom less is known than conjectured. Still, somewhere in the mists, borrowing from the Golden Rule, he wrote: “Treat people the way you want to be treated, talk to people the way you want to be talked to…respect is earnednot given.”

Fitting for this moment, perhaps also for his. The original was not about hard work or honor, so much as respect, the difference between demanding it – which never works – and earning it, which does.

So much of the political dialogue today is about demanding this or that change, this occur and that become a new norm, this opinion be heard, that one cancelled, this Supreme Court decision respected, that one rejected – all with the unspoken “or else” dangling.

America is not about ultimatums, not about free stuff for votes or otherwise. It is not about demanding things, except perhaps respect for law and for each other. It is not about grousing because we have too little, the government not giving us enough. It is about the chance to earn, at every turn – and that too did not come free. It was – as the t-shirt says – “earned not given.” 


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Tom
1 month ago

Robert Charles: Thank you for research and time for this fine article. My father always said:” those who have served. and sacrificed know the price of freedom the protected will never know.”.After 2 years in Viet Nam I realized what he mentioned and what you wrote.

Karen
1 month ago

The generation of the 1940s was the best. “Old school” workers, working hard, dependable, etc. etc. Now, there is nothing but laziness and all are wanting everything free. Well, you will have to go to the socialist countries to get that. It will NOT happen in the USA. Look forward to Trump in 2024 so we can get back to the good old days.

Dave
1 month ago
Reply to  Karen

The ‘good old days’ aren’t ever going to come back…

LARRY BLEVINS
1 month ago

I am so tired of hearing about the double standards. Rules for thee but not for me. Our politicians are so corrupt, Pelosi with her stock deals Clinton’s, Bidens,McConnell, they are all parasites

Arlene
1 month ago

This is a superb article!! Every person in congress, everyone in a leadership position should read this. Unfortunately, people like Pelosi, Schumer, Soros, and their ilk would not understand it.

Max
1 month ago

RBC, as you have seen, this nation has been on the down hill slide for a very long time. Evil is now becoming good and good seen as evil. Lawlessness is now the new norm being stirred up the power elite so their agenda for world domination can succeed. Read the Old Testament, the Hebrews/Israel had its ups and downs. When following the laws of God, they prospered and when they went against the law, they suffered through chastisement/judgement. This nation is suffering because bad laws that have gone against the laws of God. Over turning “Roe vs. Wade” by the Supreme Court is a start at the national level, the states now have to do their part in recognizing that abortion is MURDER and enact the necessary law changes to bring back justice for the innocent. Of course, many know which states will continue to murder infants while nor recognizing the fact that they have been going through much punishment through the COVID virus.
Politics. A necessary evil? As you stated, the powers to be have been getting away with law breaking and not even getting a wrist slap. Then the unprecedented FBI raid on Pres. Trump’s FL home. This is an obvious abuse of power by the Department of Justice(?) with the backing of the Administration and certain Congressional members. This is just the beginning of the next reign of terror against the people of this nation. The rights of citizens will be going away as a totalitarian government takes charge. Socialism is rearing its ugly head.

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