Monday, September 21, 2009

It is Time to Wake Up and Dream!

Just under one year ago we experienced a historic election, one where for the first time since 1928 that there was no incumbent president or vice president in the race, the first with an African American as a nominee, and the first with a female on the republican ticket and only the second woman in history. This during a time where we were fighting two wars, and were dealing with an economic collapse in our markets. With all this going on, what sticks out most is the deep divide we find in our populace. We are pushed further and further from each other ideologically, much like we were during the actual founding of this nation. The difference we see today that is most disturbing is that for the first time since our founding we seem to not be able to pull together on the matters of real importance, that we are all Americans first, and partisans second.

How have we lost the deep love and pride in our country? When did we part company in that no matter what else divides us that we have our passion for America as our glue to hold us together during trying times? Could it be that during the anger during the Vietnam War we lost trust in our government? Was it by happenstance, or was it a concerted effort to drive a wedge into us from our enemies working from outside in? Can we find this passion for being Americans again? How do we go about it? Where is the awe of this nation we live and for her symbols? We are seeing a renewed passion for patriotism coming out for tea parties, and town halls, I am thrilled to see this. Why are we also seeing the outrageous attacks on these patriots by their own elected officials, and their friends in the media?

Those who would willingly vote to trade their, and my, freedoms for the want of some government largess that they have been promised has never made sense to me. I don’t understand why anyone would want to settle for handouts, and in the process, give up the opportunities to have a limitless top to their potential. Why would any American not believe that they or their children can reach whatever dream they can dream, and have the courage and tenacity to chase? Why would they choose to allow the government to put a lid on their success for a small handout now? This concept has eluded me for years; I simply couldn’t grasp this thinking. Tonight I read this in “Democracy in America” from the 1830’s.

“There is, in fact, a manly and lawful passion for equality which incites men to wish all to be powerful and honored. This passion tends to elevate the humble to the rank of the great; but there exists also in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to attempt to lower the powerful to their own level, and reduces men to prefer equality in slavery to inequality with freedom. Not that those nations whose social condition is democratic naturally despise liberty; on the contrary, they have and instinctive love of it. But liberty is not the chief and constant object of their desires; equality is their idol; they make rapid and sudden efforts to obtain liberty, and, if they miss their aim, resign themselves to their disappointment; but nothing can satisfy them without equality, and they would rather perish than lose it.”

Alexis de Tocqueville from “Democracy in America.”

This aptly explains why the concept of class envy works so well in politics. It never made sense to me that the idea of “taxing the rich” was such a powerful persuasion on the voters. What I could never understand is how does punishing someone who has achieved greater things positively effect the voter who isn‘t taxed or receive a benefit anyway? Why does it make them happy to attack the achiever even if it makes no positive impact on them? Tocqueville says it is the perverted idea of dragging others to our level to be more equal with them, to be equal in our poverty is somehow better than holding those achievers up as examples for ourselves and our children to aspire to. This is the essence of that perversion. How did we get this way? What can we do to turn it around?

We need to resell Americans on America, and the American Dream. I believe the reason we see this perverted political ideology sell today is that we have way too many people who have given up on their ability to achieve the dream. A good portion of this could well be due to too many once well meaning groups, who derive their power by our dependence, teaching us that we can’t do it, we can’t make it, that the American Dream is no longer attainable, or not somehow for us.
Look at how labor unions have convinced millions of Americans that the only way that they can earn a decent wage is to join and let the union get it for you. That tells you that you can’t do on your own, you need help. When you look at how many of the so called Black leadership who has told people that if not for their help, people can’t get ahead, that the world is stacked up against them, and that they shouldn’t even try on their own.
The same can be said with politicians, and frankly how many have been told that “You can’t do it,” “What makes you think that you’re better than us and can do that? “Or “Don’t get above your raising.” We hear this kind of stuff every time we try to stick our heads up above the crowd, and chase after our own American Dream.

So what do we do? I believe we need to start teaching and inspiring dreams once again. We need to find heroes who have achieved great things, and instead of looking for their warts and imperfections, we embrace their achievements. We need to hold up those extraordinary people as examples for us all, we need to talk about them in our schools, we need to help the spark of dreams to ignite, and nourish them, instead of extinguishing them.

Maybe we need to do a joint venture with successful people in the Amway/Quixtar business and other successful programs such as those. The best training that I have ever received was the years that I was building that business and working with some of the finest business leaders you will find anywhere. What we learned are people skills, goal setting, and any and every business training that you would find in any successful business, but we learned a deep appreciation for the dream, and the power that comes with it. As the Bible says, “Without a dream, my people perish.” One of my mentors would often admonish, “Are you building your business, or chasing your dream?” The answer you wanted was the latter, if you were chasing your dream, you were building your business, but often the other way simply caused you to be spinning your wheels since there was no “magic” in it. We learned to embrace our nation, our freedom, the free enterprise system, and learned to cherish that gift we had been given to live in the greatest nation on earth. Maybe we need some of these people teaching in our classrooms teaching the dream, teaching why America is great, and why anyone who dreams the dream can achieve that dream if they will overcome the struggle. Something that I have noticed is there are many successful families who were once involved but took their education into other businesses and succeeded, as did their children. They know that all success stories have three parts, the Dream, the Struggle, and the Victory.

If you ask anyone who has worked for me you will hear that when I had them set goals, they first had to tell me what their Dream was, or find one. Many were baby steps to learn the process. Most of us do things backwards; we want something so we buy it on easy payments instead of setting it as a dream and then building our goals and activities around achieving them. We have forgotten the magic of delayed gratification. If you buy now on credit, you will normally be long tired of the purchase before it is paid for; however, if you set it as a reward for a met goal, when you achieve it and buy it, it becomes a trophy as well and will be all the sweeter.

If we can reignite the passion of the American Dream across America, it might be the single most positive impact that anything can do to move America forward. JFK set a dream that we would put a man on the moon within 9 years; he set the dream and put a date on it clarifying the goal. We might still not have been to the moon had that dreamer not dreamt the dream and inspired a nation to dream it with him. We have not had a dreamer who could ignite a nation since Reagan. If we don’t have a dreamer at the top, we need to inspire from a grassroots level, we need to teach our children that if they can dream it that can do it, the Olympics shows us that every four years, but we must embrace it in all of our own lives. We are a nation spawned by dreamers; brave souls who left all they knew to come to America just for a chance to chase their dreams, this same drive pushed them west from sea to sea. Each great achievement in our society first started with a dream. If we can reignite a dream in the hearts of more and more Americans, we will see a renewed passion for the freedoms that America offers to allow those dreams to grow and become reality. It is the dreamless, those who don’t believe that they can ever be anything more than where they are who are willing to throw away their freedoms that they don’t feel that they are going to use anyway, for crumbs promised from the government now.

America it is time to WAKE UP, and DREAM.

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