Work - Save - Educate

Achieving Self-Reliance by Climbing Higher*


There is a saying of long-standing that states that “All able-bodied persons ought to work.” With scientific and technological advances many disabled persons among us proudly show up for honest work each day. They could easily point to their disabilities as a reason for not working or attempting to work. But they have sought self-reliance by turning their disabilities into possibilities. Of course, there are severely disabled persons among us who are unable to work for reasons not of their own choosing. They must be rightfully supported and protected by a compassionate and just society. Race, gender, ethnic and other forms of bigotry are not disabilities they are breakable barriers. It requires aggressive and unstoppable motivation. Work, honest work, adds value to the person, family and community. All honest work is honorable, the bricklayer and the surgeon both work with their hands. Work, honest work, and a rigorous work ethic recognizes that work is not simply a matter of survival but is a matter of improvement and a means to grasp opportunities. Not having employment or a job at any given period is not an embarrassment; not making a job out of seeking work is questionable.


Living from day-to-day or week-to-week or paycheck-to-paycheck does not easily lend itself to saving in terms of monetary savings. But saving takes place on several levels. My mother was a genius at saving food. She could turn today’s leftovers into tomorrow’s tasty supper. She never bought the fanciest cuts of meat. Our meals often consisted of chicken gizzards, rice and cornbread. But we never missed a meal. We lived within our means. I was a grown man before I ever set foot in a restaurant to purchase a sit down dinner. I worked as a youngster and essentially supported my personal needs, but my parents taught me to save, to have something leftover at the end of the week. I was taught that you work for what you need, and not everything you want. I have been blessed to come to a point in my life where I can walk through a store and see fine things I can afford, but I don’t need. That’s saving! Our materialistic, Madison Avenue society has lulled far too many to view jewelry, fine clothes, luxury cars and big houses as a measure of worth. Money is good and necessary, but money is the poorest form of riches. We are daily bombarded and tempted to live beyond our means. We fall prey to purchasing trappings and trinkets of prosperity we can not afford. This may lead to burdens of debt that rob us of our peace of mind, our children’s inheritance and the ability to be generous to the causes in which we believe. My hands can not buy everything my eyes appreciate.


Education is the surest path to self-reliance and prosperity. Perhaps not in terms of great monetary gain, but in terms of personal satisfaction and a rewarding life. The ancestors of African Americans viewed education as liberation; a means to escape the miseries of sharecropping, hopelessness and inheritable poverty. Education and job training paved the way for a working black middle class that fueled the black economy. That black economy that sustained the black community, built institutions and strengthened religious and civic organizations. We must teach our children to value education; challenge them to climb higher. Parents must be involved in the education of their children: Present a positive presence at the school and become informed participants at school board meetings. We must demand qualified schools, administrators and teachers. We must stress the value of professional, classical and vocational education. We must strive to avoid what Dr. Carter G. Woodson described as the “Mis-Education of the Negro.” Our children must learn of the contributions of Africans and African Americans to global society. We must teach our children moral and spiritual values and the rules of common decency. Minds and hands must be trained in order to work in order to save in order to educate. Of course, not every person will be able to create his or her own job or control the timing of employment, but every person not excused by age, infirmity or exceptional circumstances ought to be equipped to do a job.


*Author's Postscript:

“From Beggars to Believers: Self-Help is Liberationis a non-fiction book that I am preparing to complete and publish. It espouses and promotes the principles of “Work, Save, Educate.” It accepts the fact that self-reliance is liberating and liberation.  That self-help is the only reliable means of upward mobility in an economically driven and progressive society. That economic self-reliance and viable economic community is a priority of any collective freedom movement. That unnecessary dependence on the assets and resources of others tends to be an avoidance of personal responsibility and a self-imposed devaluation of worth in community. It accepts the fact that historic debts due to a race or group of people, unsecured promises and empty good intentions are unreliable platforms upon which to construct a secure and rewarding life, family and community. It rejects any all excuses for failing to reach reachable aims and attainments. It rejects the notion that our children and future generations will not be as competitive and successful as others in society. It rejects the enrichment of other communities by failing to establish and prefer strong centers of commerce and entrepreneurship in our own communities. It rejects violence and all acts of criminality that hinders the safety, prosperity and tranquility of our communities. It rejects all politicians and political parties that take our votes and voices for granted. It rejects all so-called “community leaders” who have been bought-up and leased back to us by the power structures in American society. It rejects low expectations, settling for less, and satisfaction with crumbs falling from the nation’s bountiful economic table. It rejects easy excuses and demands hard work and results. It is, “Achieving Self-Reliance by Climbing Higher.”