Over the last several weeks, I’ve been thinking about how our culture determines value and success, and how, based on those factors, I’ve seen people treated and/or misunderstood.? I’ve asked myself, how have we gotten to this place where value is determined by money, by? “formal” education, by making it to the top of a field at any cost?? Why do we determine success by the number of letters behind a name?? How have we gotten to the point that use of ignorant and dangerous terminology – terminology that reduces and demeans individuals – is still acceptable in many circles? Perhaps a bit heavy for this blog?? Well, one can only talk about already been chewed gum and sucking water out of a hole for so long.

Allow me to share a few real-life examples of what I mean.? These are actual excerpts from my life, encounters that left my blood boiling or left me so flabbergasted that I fell from my chair (ok, not really, but in case you hadn’t noticed, this is the rising action part of the blog post).

“The Illegals”
While skimming through status updates on Facebook, I came across a friend’s post on US voting requirements. Regardless that my friend’s status had nothing to with immigration matters/undocumented immigrants, one woman commented:

“I don’t want the illegals speaking for me.”? Then she made some mention of Jesus and treating each other civilly/respectfully.

“The Grunts”
During a conference call, a project manager from another firm realized we would need to consult with members of his field crew in order to answer a question concerning some data.? He stated, “I’ll check with the grunts and get back to you.”

“Second Best”
Before lab, I asked my professor why he decided to teach at community college.

“He’s working here until he gets a better job,” another student muttered.

I heard her comment, but I sure hoped Dr. B hadn’t.? I guess she considered his job?second best, and as a result, probably her education, too.

A Day Without…
Illegals, Grunts, Second Best…

Drillers, imagine your job without your helpers.? Project managers, imagine your life without environmental technicians.? Vice Presidents at environmental consulting firms, what would you do without your executive assistant?? School teachers and principals, your janitors?? Doctors, your nurses?? Nurses, your aides?? What would the US be like without immigrants, who (in my experience) are some of the hardest working people around?? When community colleges provide an affordable solution to increasing higher education costs in a less than stellar job market, why do people turn up their nose or consider it second best?? What would life be like for students who don’t want to go into debt at 4-year schools, but want a higher education, if community colleges ceased to exist?

We are all part of the puzzle that is life.? We can work as hard as we want, but if we devalue the other pieces, we will forever miss the complete picture.


Written By: Karen Baer

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