America… The Culture of Excuses?

Da’Von C. Crutchfield

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Do we live in a culture of excuses? Day in and day out our lives are faced with obstacles, and for some they tip the scales far greater than others. For a single working mother living the double life of a college student excuses can seem within reason to have. My kids were sick. I couldn’t find a baby sitter. I was up all night trying to finish a paper when the baby started crying. One word COLIC! Valid excuses for not getting to work and or class on time, not getting that big assignment in on the due date, or just not being able to meet the day to day requirements of being that perfect mother, employee and star student.

Dr. Deborah Sanders, Coordinator of the African American Studies Program at New Jersey City University believes American culture is full of excuses. Given her career history, she may have a valid point.

“There is a lack of motivation here”, she says when talking about the students she has taught during her tenure in the United States. “I taught in South Africa, and Zimbabwe, and if you knew half of what those students had to go through every day just to get to class, compared to what we consider trials and tribulations over here, we would be put to shame.”

This may be rightfully true, however, that would be a hard sell to the mother who just got off of an 8 hour shift of standing at a cash register having to smile and be polite to rude

and ignorant customers bitching about an expired coupon for 35 cents off of a can of tuna; only to have to pick up her children from one baby sitter to another and rush to school and sit in a 3 hour lecture about Contemporary art, while simultaneously worrying about the mysterious bruises she noticed on her child when picking her up from the baby sitter today.

Of course, this may seem minimal to the student that has to walk 25 miles to get to the closest school, or has to face the risk of some terroristic attack when sitting in class. But for the mother who then leaves school at night, has to pick up her children, calm them down for bed, only to have study for an upcoming exam, and still try get a least 3 hours of rest in before having to repeat the process the next day, the “I’m sorry I was late but…” does not seem as inexcusable.

There was a jack knife big rig in the middle of the highway this morning. I was on the toilet all night after trying that new fish taco truck I saw on the way home last night. I over slept. I was in the ER with my son last night because he struck a fever. I need more time to finish my research, my daughter spilled soda on my computer the other day, and I need the Geek Squad to give me an estimate on how much it will cost to replace the motherboard.

Are we really in a culture of excuses or are we just selective on what we are willing to allow to get in our way of getting things done?