Sex, money, lies and violence pretty much constitute a good song these days. But recently, we were driving across the Texas countryside and a very different kind of song came across the radio.
And this one gave me pause. Allow me to share a bit of it:
“Hold the door, say please, say thank you Don't steal, don't cheat, and don't lie I know you got mountains to climb but Always stay humble and kind When the dreams you're dreamin' come to you When the work you put in is realized Let yourself feel the pride but Always stay humble and kind
Don't expect a free ride from no one Don't hold a grudge or a chip and here's why Bitterness keeps you from flyin' Always stay humble and kind …”
That’s Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind.” It’s really a beautiful song, and it’s a pretty good guide to living life as a good, upstanding, non-jerk.
It stuck with me not just because it’s easy on the ears, but because at its core it’s so very different than so much of what I see society doing. And it’s been on my mind ever since.
So with that song on your minds now, let me tell you the story of two students.
Kevuntez King was determined to go to college, despite the difficulties life set in his path; chiefly, that he grew up in a single parent household, with only his mother to provide for him. So college - outside of loans and the hope of scholarships - would be a difficult slog. In the face of a society that tells teens like King every single day to simply expect everything to be handed to them just because (especially if you happen to be a minority - in which case the world tells you that you deserve even more just because), King wasn’t having it.
He stood out every single Sunday for five straight years and sold newspapers, earning $200 a Sunday, and putting every penny away.
Today, he’s been accepted at Tennessee State University. And by the way, he’s got it all paid for.
Mayte Lara Ibarra was also determined to go to college. She studied hard at Crockett High School in Texas - and rose above her class. With a 4.5 GPA, Ibarra earned the top slot as valedictorian, among other distinctions and honors. Even better, she earned a full ride of the University of Texas. Like King, her hard work means she’s not going to be burdened with debt when she graduates from college.
In a world full of average, Ibarra stands out. Big time.
Then she tweeted:
Image source: Twitter
I don’t know Mayte’s story. But, given her perfect English as she spoke at graduation, the United States is probably the only country she’s ever known. Like so many others, she was likely brought over as a young child by her illegal immigrant parents or other relatives, and - in fairness - this wasn’t her fault. A toddler can’t change the fact that Mommy and Daddy think it’s ok to break the rules.
But I’ve digressed.
What her parents (or relatives or whoever brought her over) did was wrong. Period. Politics and political correctness aside, what they did was break the law.
And Mayte - steeped in a culture that celebrates people like her and barely glances for more than a moment at people like Kevuntez King - felt empowered to mess all over her accomplishments and flash a big “f*** you” to us crazy kooks that still think laws matter.
Texas (ironically) is “one of 17 states that allows undocumented students who graduated from an in-state high school or earned a GED to receive in-state tuition,” so she can not only attend a public college without legal status, but can reap the benefits that legal Texans have to pay for.
But that’s a discussion for another day.
Let’s circle back to Tim McGraw. The essence of that song (and why it struck such a chord with me) is that unlike the pervasive “get yours” mentality of our society today, it shows us that we’re supposed to do the right thing. We’re supposed to work hard. We’re supposed to be grateful. We’re supposed to live honorably and take nothing for granted.
Mayte worked hard all right. But is she grateful? Is she humble? Does she get it that she has all of this opportunity because someone else did something wrong? I doubt it—after all, she’s willing to openly celebrate it - though apparently not brave enough to stand by her words after some people took umbrage with her.
Call me crazy - she could thank the state of Texas, its taxpayers, and the citizens of this country for allowing her to stay and do all these great things.
No, instead, she flips them all off on her way to a tuition-free education. So long, suckers!
She claims now that she never meant to "mock" anyone, or that her use of a Mexican flag emoji in her tweet didn't mean she wasn't grateful to this country. Her intent, in her words, to to "show that no matter what barriers you have in front of you, you can still succeed.”
Crazy thought: when you're here illegally, it's probably not smart to tout it. Ever. It's not a good thing; it's not something to be proud to have "overcome." And look, I know it's not easy to get here legally, or fix your status once you're here. Believe me. But here's the deal, Mayte, if your intent really wasn't to mock, then don't bring it up. Period. It has no place in your list of accomplishments.
“Mayte may be a talented, successful young lady, but she's exactly who I don’t want my daughter or any of our children to look up to. Yet she's precisely what our society–including our president–loves to celebrate (and she's not the only one). Hence the glowing support.
“When you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”
“Matte [sic] Lara is an inspiration. Make these people even madder girl. Screw everyone trying to put her down.”
“Dear #MayteLara, i am beyond proud of you! Documented or Undocumented You worked hard!Valedictorian, 4.5 GPA and a Fullride [sic]!”
“All that Mayte and others like her do when they turn their illegal status into some kind of “look what I overcame” platform is whitewash reality. In other words, they make their illegal status something to be applauded.”
I want my daughter to look up to people like Kevuntez King. I want to raise her to be humble - expecting nothing.
I want to raise her to work hard for what she wants, yes, but most importantly, I want her to be dang proud of doing the right thing. And if her father or I ever make a mistake, she better never run around touting it as any kind of platform.
She’s going to follow the Tim McGraw guidebook to being a good, upstanding, non-jerk.
Who’s with us?
Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com (a political commentary blog), and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show (TheBlaze Radio Network, Saturday, from noon to 3 p.m. ET). She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree
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