My father served in the second World War and came home with this outlandish, altruistic idea that elementary education was what the country needed, an idea I think you echoed in your campaign. His first job, if I remember correctly, earned him a whopping $3,500 dollars a year. My mother, an ex-marine, also served in the war and returned from it to sell shoes in a department store and raise two kids.
The middle class and education and food for me and my brother was what they desperately wanted. We thought we were, "free people pursuing our dreams" as you said in your clarifying statement, but I see now we were shirking our responsibilities. I became a teacher and my brother a dock worker, don't worry about us.
My father finished college on the GI Bill, a government hand-out of the most pernicious nature, if you ask me. He became a life-long teacher and then an elementary school principal, clearly a drain on the resources of the people in his country who work and pay taxes. This is the culture of dependency in which I was raised.
I don't remember my parents saying that we were victims and the government has a responsibility to care for us, but clearly I must have got that idea from somewhere.
I continue to be a dependent while I teach, write, and pay taxes in Syracuse, New York
Bruce Smith was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is the author of six books of poems, most recently, Devotions, a finalist for the National Book Awards, the National Book Critics Circle Awards, the LA Times Book Award, and the winner of the William Carlos Williams Prize.