Rising Above: Change Your Program (Part 1)

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metropolis

I grew up in the inner city in a part of Chicago now notoriously known as “Chi-raq.” Had I fallen into the typical ghetto traps, I may have been stuck there to this day, working a dead-end job for little pay, maybe even hustling on a street corner. Some of my friends made it out but quite a few of them did not.

The complaint is that a public school education only teaches kids how to be employees and not business owners. That is partially true. Public schools push the basics, giving students the ability to read, write, add, and subtract. It’s what the student does with it that determines where he or she goes.

When I was 18, I had graduated from a rather prestigious high school, though I wasn’t doing anything spectacular. I was flipping patties at a franchise burger joint. Enamored at the minimum wage check I was bringing home, I tried to envision a future as a crew chief, a manager, then rising to the corporate offices. My father came by one day and shook all that up.

My dad is one of the most intellectual men I’ve ever met. Whenever he wasn’t training martial arts students, his nose was in a book. I wouldn’t be surprised if his smarts were on genius level. However, he had fallen into some ghetto traps of his own. The best thing he did was to recognize he didn’t want his son to follow a similar path.

“Let’s say I came out of a dark alley,” he told me, “covered with all sorts of scrapes, bleeding. If I told you not to take that alley as a shortcut, would you believe me?”

“Yes, sure,” I said, not knowing where he was going.

“There is nothing wrong with flipping burgers, son. Somebody has to do it. There’s honor in all work. However, don’t fall into the trap of accepting that’s all you’ll amount to in life: somebody’s grill man.”

I quickly figured out what he meant: I could avoid some mistakes and I needed to reach beyond what our neighborhood offered. A few weeks later, I had enlisted in the Navy. That was one of the best decisions I’d ever made.

***

Using the basics of education, along with dogged determination, can get you to the place in your life about which you always dreamed.

***

Have you ever seen Metropolis? It is a silent film by German director Fritz Lang that influenced many other movies. In addition to many filmmakers using the image of Maria the Robot as inspiration (check out the similarity between her and the C3PO character from the Star Wars universe, as well as Whitney Houston’s “Queen of the Night” costume in The Bodyguard), the movie gave a great example between the haves and the have-nots. The wealthy live in high rises that overlook the proletariat masses below.

***

To be continued…

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