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Letter to the Editor: Success in life is determined by how we respond to outside forces

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Unlike Ms. Mesko and Mr. Arnow who were apparently born into affluent middle-income or upper-income families I was born into poverty. My family were sharecroppers at the time of my birth. My father on many occasions after my birth worked as many as three jobs with my mother working another job. It took all this effort to maintain a living. By the time I was 18 years old, we had finally made it to the middle class thanks to the decisions and actions that my father and mother made and took.

During my years of growing up, from the time I was 10 years old, I worked at anything I could find to earn money to help support the family. I thinned cotton, picked cotton, pulled corn, mowed lawns, worked in the hay fields, set pins in a bowling alley, worked as a busboy and worked as a short order cook to name just a few things I worked at. In addition I went to school, yes public school, where I was a mediocre student!

We all are impacted by outside forces in our life. What matters is how we react to them. Then what are the decisions that we make as a result of the outside forces.

Public schools have been around for more than 200 years and have been standard and available to all in the United State since right after the American Revolution. There are good and bad schools. It is not the school that determines the level of education that someone receives. It is the effort and value that someone places on an education. I dropped out of school after the 11th grade. My priorities changed later in life. I then went on to obtain a high school diploma, three college degrees and qualify for a fourth college degree, graduating summa cum laude while going to school fulltime and working fulltime to support my family. As with any endeavor, what matters is the decision that you make and then the actions that you take upon the decision you made.

I will state it again! Our stations in life are the result of our decisions and the actions we have taken on those decisions we have made. No matter into what environment we are born, it is up to us to improve our lot in life.

Ms. Mesko used Dr. Ben Carson as an exception I would beg to differ with her. Dr. Carson is where he is today because like my father and mother, his mother made good decisions for him in his formative years. When Dr. Carson reached adulthood, he continued to make good decisions and took the appropriate action on those decisions. When someone reaches adulthood, they make their own decisions and become what they are today because of those decisions and the actions they take on those decisions.

I am living proof that we are the results of the decisions that we make that determines your status or station in life. It is because I made decisions to improve my lot in life that I am where I am today. If I had determined that my life was strictly controlled by outside forces, as many claim, I would have never reached the level I did in the U.S. Army, nor would I have attained the education level I did at a private college! I must also credit our economic system which allowed me to succeed.

Ray Shamlin

Rocky Mount

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