Last night I watched the special on Oprah's Leadership Academy and I really have to comment on it. It struck me on so many levels I'm not even sure I can cover them all here.
I must say I have never begrudged anyone who's worked hard their money. I'm not the type to say oh they've got too much money. If you want to work you're tail off there should be no limit to what you can make. And I don't think anyone has an obligation to do anything with their money. It's their money, they earned it, they can do whatever they want with it. Having said that, I have an amazing amount of respect for people who do use their money for really good things. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation - wonderful idea. Side note, the Gates have created trust funds for their kids and that's all they are getting - wonderful idea!!! Warren Buffet - he's donated a huge amount of money to the Gates Foundation. I have lots of respect for these people because they don't have to do this and yet they do.
Then there's Oprah. I don't agree with a lot of her views or her politics but I have an amazing amount of respect for this woman. She worked very hard to get where she is and she puts her money where her mouth is. She has spent 5 years building this academy. She oversaw every single thing. So she would record her show in Chicago and then fly to South Africa. She personally picked out every detail for these girls. She personally interviewed every girl. She's a very rich, very busy woman. She could have had other people do this but no, she did it herself amazing. And I can't even imagine the money spent. I know they've been throwing around numbers, 46 million, or some such. I think it was probably much, much more when you factor in Oprah's time and bringing all those celebrities over for the opening. Also, she is going to make it possibly for every girl that attends the academy to be able to go to college anywhere in the world. Unbelievably amazing!!!
Then there are the girls!! Talk about amazing!! These girls live in poverty we in this country can't even imagine. They have seen people die from AIDS or murdered right in front of them. They get up at 4:30 in the morning to walk through horribly dangerous areas to get a bus to go to school. They walk and carry water because they don't have indoor plumbing. They study by candlelight because they have no electricity. Their parents, or grandparents, work to pay their tuition and for their uniform so they can go to school. And these girls are the top of their classes. The best and the brightest South Africa has too offer. And positive - oh my god!!! They are confident and sure of themselves and absolutely positive they can change things. One little girl wants to be the president of South Africa. I think she'll probably do it.
I know when the news came out about the Academy Oprah took a lot of heat. At the time, even though I really didn't know anything about the Academy, I said that's crazy. I've been to Africa, I've seen how bad it is there. Nothing in this country compares. Every child in America has the opportunity for an education. In Africa that's not the case. So I thought at the time what she did was fantastic. Now, I think it's even better. When you educate or empower a woman you touch the future. She will use that to better her family, her children, her grandchildren. When you educate or empower a male, that's all you do. I'm not bashing men here, but it's true. Woman will think of improving the lot of their family and future generations. Men will tend to think of themselves. Sorry guys, but it's a proven sociological fact of life. If you really want to improve things improve the women. The education level of the woman determines how many children the family will have. The education level of the man doesn't matter. Sorry but that's how it is.
Watching these little girls who's family's are dirt poor speak English better than most children in the US really had me thinking. What has happened in this country?? We have a free education system, okay, it may not be the best but it's really up to the student and parents to work the system to their advantage. Some incredibly gifted students come out of that system, so it's not impossible. I don't want to make this into a political rant, cause it's not. But think about it. We are handed an education, yet how many drop out before they graduate. The younger generation doesn't seem to value education at all, which totally boggles my mind. If you're not educated all kinds of people can take all kinds of advantage of you. People seem to think the government exists to take care of them. Look at New Orleans, it's still a mess. And when I hear about it all I hear are people complaining about the government not helping. Every time something happens people look to the government. We've become a society that literally can not take care of itself. People look to the government to. I could go off on how this has happened or why, but that's not the point. The point is that it is the situation now. It's really sad when a 3rd world country can do better than we can in self sufficiency.
Okay, I'm going to stop here. Watching this last night just really made me sad. I happen to believe that we live in the greatest country on earth. I believe we have some of the greatest people on earth. I believe that we will be okay but I think it's going to get worse before it gets better. Do you realize at some point in the not too distant future, South Africa may outdo us educationally??? How sad would that be????
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