My father recently retired after working nearly thirty years in the restaurant service industry. It’s hard work. I tried it for a summer and knew that I was not cut out for it. The hours are long. You are on your feet most of the time. Breaks are rare and the environment can be incredibly stressful.
Most of us are oblivious to all of this when we frequent our favorite restaurants…and that’s OK. As far as I’m concerned, all work has dignity. And for the vast majority of the folks that are working in the restaurant industry toiling in the kitchen, they are not necessarily looking to receive a gold medal for their work. Most are happy to work, collect a paycheck and be treated with dignity and respect.
My father was no different. And for the first few years working in this country, he actually worked two shifts in order to make ends meet for my family. Sure it was tough, but at the end of the day, he was glad to that he was employed and was able to provide for my sisters and I with a chance to live in a country of endless opportunity.
And in my case, you could say that all of my Dad’s hard work paid off. My sisters and I are all working, or raising families. We graduated from college and have kids of our own and happily living in a country where we know that our hard work, dedication and talents can take us as far as we dream.
My story is not unique. There are many immigrant families that have lived this story, or are living this story now. Folks that are working hard and not necessarily seeking glory, but doing what is necessary in order to pry open the doors of opportunity for themselves and their loved ones.
The remarkable thing about all of this is that this is happening at a time when our country is deeply divided and there is much pessimism.
But for the Hispanic community, the outlook is quite different. Consider a recent poll conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center that found that Hispanics are bullish about the economy. Another poll conducted by the same organization found that Hispanics are confident that their own finances will improve.
This is especially surprising considering that Hispanics have been among the ethnic groups hardest hit during the most recent economic recession that saw hundreds of thousands of Americans foreclose on their house and join the unemployment line.
And yet, Hispanics are optimistic about the future. It is an attitude that speaks volumes. There is resiliency and determination, not unlike that my father showed from the moment he arrived to this country knowing little English and having few skills.
All of this is a good reminder to all of us, but especially the younger generation of Hispanics that may have been born in this country, but may not appreciate the virtue of a free enterprise system that values hard work. There is an allure drawing younger Americans (including Latinos) to socialism.
Unfortunately we are seeing the awful consequences of socialism in places like Venezuela where hundreds of thousands are starving and unable to find proper medical care. This includes newborn children that are literally dying.
Venezuela is a cautionary tale of what we could come to see in the United States of America if we support policies that grow government and inhibit the private sector and the free enterprise system. As the former U.K. Prime Minister once famously said, “socialism is great until you run out of other people’s money.”
My parents did not come to this country in search of big government policies. They came here to work and to provide for their children. It’s clear that many Hispanic immigrants continue to believe in this idea. We should celebrate this and promote it every chance we get.