My mother had a saying that most of you will recognize, "...there but for the grace of God go I." I heard it most often after we had encountered someone with an "afflicted" child or that was suffering from some sort of physical disability.
I think it was recognition we should not take too much credit for our health, general station in life, our families and their fortunes. Things could just as easily be other than as they are.
But it means more than that. We didn't choose our parents, their occupations, our teachers, whether we were tall or short, fat or thin, pretty or less so, whether we were smart or "differently gifted." We don't even choose our nationality or the religion we will grow up believing.
I think we can teach personal responsibility and effort to our youth and others without the arrogance of the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" crowd. It is easy to look back and say look where we are today because of our hard work.
Faith in hard work should not cause me to feel superior to others, who may have worked just as hard but with less success. Such a superior attitude presumes that I rather than the Deity has really been in charge of how my life has developed.
We should teach the young the values of hard work, education, reliability, etc. But also to be generous and kind in assisting those whose lives have been touched with less grace than their own. Treating the less fortunate with meanness and a miserly attitude, reflects poorly on the unmerited gift of grace on ourselves.
Patrick Durusau is a local resident of Covington. His column regularly appears on Fridays.