America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, March 2, 2017

I often think of the 2000 film, Paying it Forward.  In retirement I tutor kids, mostly teenagers, in math and science, though our conversations tend to stray into many other areas. I find them surprisingly open and eager to discuss values, families, politics…you name it, and the issue of paying forward often comes up in two very different ways.

The majority of the kids are the children of immigrants. Their families come from India, Pakistan, China, Korea, Tibet, Vietnam, the Caribbean, Kenya, Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana, and probably a few places I missed. They’re Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, even Jews. Remarkably, their families all have two things in common. The kids are taught to obey rules and respect adults, and their parents sacrifice everything to assure their futures. Since I’m old enough to be their grandfather, I hear all the complaints. Why are they so…

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